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Bowman man receives deferred imposition of sentence in negligent homicide case

A Bowman man received a two-year deferred imposition of sentence after pleading guilty Tuesday to negligent homicide at a hearing in Southwest District Court in Dickinson.

As part of the plea agreement, MicKenzie John Robertson, 22, will also be on probation for two years and have to pay $525 in fines and fees, following an August vehicle accident near Belfield that killed a former abbot from the Assumption Abbey in Richardton.

"I hope you understand the suggested action gives you an opportunity here," Judge Dann Greenwood told Robertson.

If Robertson complies with the terms of his probation for two years, the charges will be cleared from his record.

According to a North Dakota Highway Patrol crash report released two days after the accident, Robertson was traveling north on Highway 85 near Belfield in a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado at 11:23 p.m. Aug. 9 when he appeared to drift into the southbound lane.

Robertson's vehicle struck a 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix traveling south on Highway 85 that was being driven by Patrick Moore, 73, of New England. Moore had served as an abbot at the Assumption Abbey from 1988 until 2004, when he retired at the age of 65.

Moore attempted to steer into the northbound lane and avoid the crash, but was struck head on by Robertson's vehicle. Robertson's truck came to rest in the west ditch, while Moore's vehicle remained on the roadway, according to the crash report.

Moore was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders, and Robertson was transported to Dickinson by ambulance and then flown to Trinity Hospital in Minot. Both vehicles sustained major front-end damage, according to the crash report.

Robertson's attorney, Thomas Dickson, said Tuesday that it appears Robertson fell asleep at the wheel.

Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said he spoke to the victim's family, as well as Abbot Brian Wangler about the sentence, which they felt was a fair resolution.

"Sleep deprivation was likely the reason for the crash and there was no indication that alcohol was involved," Henning said. "The victim was killed instantly and it was a terrible accident that resulted in the death of Father Moore."

Henning said neither Moore's family nor Wangler wanted to ruin Robertson's life with a felony charge, but at the same time, they wanted to make sure there was a punishment for the crime.

"They don't wish to destroy his life or his future," Henning said. "There have been a number of fatalities on the roadways lately, and it's a sad thing that sometimes happens without intent."