LAKOTA, N.D. — "The party is over."
That's what Judge Jason McCarthy said Friday, Feb. 7, before sentencing Jordan Lee Borland of Lisbon, N.D., to seven years in prison for criminal vehicular homicide.
The judge's comment was in reference to the fact that Borland was celebrating his birthday with his friend, 23-year-old Kevin Lemna, in April 2017 before getting into his pickup, with Lemna in the passenger seat, and crashing outside Pekin, N.D.
Lemna was killed, and investigators estimated Borland's blood alcohol level was between .097% and .127% — over the legal driving limit of .08%. Lemna's last text messages to his girlfriend showed he was afraid to be in the car with Borland, and that he intended to jump out of the vehicle and walk.
At Friday's sentencing, Judge McCarthy said the evidence was overwhelming that Borland was "blasted drunk."
About 30 people showed up to the Nelson County Courthouse in support of Borland, while about 20 showed up for Lemna, who is from Enderlin, N.D.
The seven-year sentence is what prosecutor Jayme Tenneson was asking for. The defense had recommended the mandatory minimum sentence of three years.
But this sentencing does not mark the end to this long and complicated case, which has already resulted in three trials for Borland. His defense attorney, Jessica Johanna Ahrendt, said they will be appealing.
A jury found Borland guilty the first time he was tried in October 2018, but the verdict was thrown out by a judge due to juror misconduct. A second trial, held in July 2019, ended in a mistrial when a jury could not reach a unanimous decision. In the first two trials, deliberations took more than a day.
A motion to dismiss the case filed in December 2019 on the basis that a third trial would constitute double jeopardy was denied by the judge early last month.
It took months for the North Dakota Highway Patrol to figure out who was driving. Investigators used DNA and text messages that Lemna sent to his girlfriend saying he was afraid he was going to die as evidence Borland was driving. Borland insisted he was not behind the wheel.
On Friday, Borland received a much longer sentence than outlined in the original plea deal the family agreed to before the first trial three years ago.
“We gave him a hell of a deal — 18 months — but he refused it and fought it,” said Lemna's mother, Kerry Lee. “He could have been out by now. Instead, he decided to put us through hell.”