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Man in wild chase says no

A Missouri man who led law enforcement on a chase through fields, fences and across an interstate highway in a stolen vehicle this summer could be heading to trial if a plea agreement is not reached in the next week.

Darren Tornow of Cuba, Mo., has been charged with possession of stolen property of a vehicle, possession of stolen property for a computer, criminal mischief -- all of which are felonies -- in addition to driving with a suspended license, fleeing a police officer, reckless driving and speeding.

"I made an offer, he did not accept my offer," said Rhonda Ehlis, assistant Stark County State's Attorney after Tuesday's hearing at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson. "He suggested an alternative," she said, adding details of the alternative offer could not be disclosed.

After a rural Dickinson resident reported an attempted burglary at his residence and provided the North Dakota Highway Patrol with a vehicle description and license plate number on June 12, the Dickinson Police Department located the vehicle in north Dickinson, according to a NDHP press release.

Law enforcement attempted to stop Tornow in the stolen Colorado truck, but he fled west on Interstate 94 and three agencies pursued the vehicle to the South Heart exit, according to a previous Press article.

Tornow traveled through fields north of I-94, turned south and drove across I-94 and through fences, then turned around and went north through fences and across I-94 once more, Sgt. Dan Haugen of the NDHP said in June.

Haugen said it was believed Tornow was traveling slightly faster than 100 mph on I-94 and less than 50 mph through pastures.

After the stolen truck broke down in a field north of I-94, Tornow took off running and Stark County Sheriff's Department deputies apprehended him.

A trial has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 3 through Nov. 5, but there are concerns more time may be needed.

Ehlis said she foresees some issues with bringing in Colorado witnesses for the trial, citing concerns with finding local hotel space for them to stay.

Other states are also looking into Tornow.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections web site, Tornow was previously convicted of burglary and theft charges in Missouri.

In May, warrants were issued for Tornow's arrest for forgery and second degree burglary, according to Greene County Sheriff's Office records and warrants department in Missouri.

In June, Tornow waived his extradition to Missouri.

"Upon Stark County having dealt with him, Missouri can come get him," Ehlis said.

Texas has also inquired about extradition of Tornow, Ehlis said.

"They are interested in him as well but they have not filed a formal request for extradition of him," she said.

It is unclear why Texas would be inquiring into extradition of Tornow.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said restitution would be sought for vehicles that were damaged during the pursuit.

Ehlis said restitution is part of her plea agreement offer.

"There was a lot of damage done to a lot of things out of this whole incident and obviously that's a big issue for our office," Ehlis said.

While an exact damage total isn't known, Ehlis said it's in the tens-of-thousands.