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Olheiser sentenced to 12 years in negligent homicide death of cousin

After pleading guilty to negligent homicide, Dickinson man Jeremy Olheiser was sentenced to 10 years in prison with three suspended. He was also sentenced to an additional five years for tampering with physical evidence. The sentences are consecutive.

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Jeremy Olheiser walks out of the courtroom after sentencing.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Jeremy Olheiser, 47, was sentenced in Southwest District Court on Nov. 8 after pleading guilty to negligent homicide in the shooting death of his 39 year-old cousin, David Galster. A confrontation between the two occurred at approximately midnight on March 12, 2020.

Olheisier was originally charged with manslaughter, a class B felony. This charge was later reduced to negligent homicide, a class C felony. For this offense, Judge Rhonda Ehlis sentenced him to 10 years of incarceration with three suspended. She also sentenced him to an additional five years for three class C felony counts of tampering with physical evidence.

According to North Dakota Century Code, manslaughter entails “recklessly causing the death of another human being,” while negligent homicide means doing the same but “negligently.” Meanwhile, murder is “intentionally or knowingly” causing such a death “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life… reasonably believing that no other participant intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious bodily injury.”

Olheiser claimed that he was being threatened by Galster, who he said came there to rob him.

David’s mother LaDonna McMahen delivered an emotional victim impact statement to the court. She said the hardest part is that every night the thought of David’s final moments “play like a movie” in her head. She described the relentless heartbreak of knowing he was shot twice and possibly still alive when Olheiser left, before returning to roll the dead body in a rug and clear away the evidence.

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“Even when I’m driving I feel my eyes water and I start to cry,” she said. “I’ll see someone riding a bike… I catch myself looking twice because I thought I saw David.”

Additional victim impact statements were heard from Galster’s brother Sean McMahen, Sean’s wife and David’s sister Mandy Bisson.

“He was my best friend… someone I could call just to talk things out with. I’ve never had a relationship like that with anyone,” Sean McMahen said.

In an interview with The Dickinson Press on Nov. 12, LaDonna explained that Galster was expecting a daughter with a woman that he had been dating. She said the woman was a mutual acquaintance between the two men, and that Olheiser had also been in a relationship with her a few years prior.

David Galster
David Galster's mother said he was a goofy, caring man who is deeply missed by his family.
Contributed / Sean McMahen

McMahen alleged that the woman was using illicit drugs while carrying the child. She said Galster sought to stop this, and believes her son went to Olheiser’s residence looking for the woman, not to rob anyone. She expressed a firm belief that Olheiser’s jealousy, fueled to a boiling point by his “hair trigger temper” and substance abuse, is the real reason her son was killed.

During the interview McMahen also relayed an anecdote from around 2017 when she used her truck to help her nephew Olheiser move to a new residence. Sparks allegedly flew when she confronted him for “barely helping all day.”

“All of sudden he just charged at me. He was coming at me and LaVonne (Olheiser’s mother) had to stop him. That’s his anger level,” she said.

She acknowledged that her son was battling his own demons with drugs. Despite this, she said he always had a job and was a fun-loving harmless person, who cherished his friends and family. Galster was working as a Pizza-Hut delivery driver at the time of his death.

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“When he would do his drugs he was mellow. He would take things apart. I noticed that he always had little projects all over the house… I think that’s how he dealt with life,” she said in the interview. “He never harmed anyone and I’ll tell you what. There were so many times I’d yell at him and he was just the kindest, then he’d break down crying because he was so soft-hearted.”

She said that although she’s happy her granddaughter is healthy and has been adopted by a loving family she gets to visit twice a year, it’s still not the same.

“Jeremy, you took away my right to the wonderful days I would have to spend with my beautiful granddaughter. Now someone else is raising David's little girl, my granddaughter,” McMahen told the court, wiping away tears. “Now David will never know the joys of watching her grow up. David would have been a wonderful father.”

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LaDonna McMahen delivers an emotional victim impact statement.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

LaDonna McMahen lamented that the ordeal has severely strained her relationship with Olheiser’s mother, her sister, and other family members.

Judge Ehlis noted in her sentencing decree that prior to Galster’s death, Olheiser had a long history of other criminal activities relating to his drug and alcohol abuse. Such offenses dating back to 1994 include several counts of issuing fraudulent checks. In 2011 he pled guilty to DUI, third offense within 5 years.

Court documents obtained by The Press show that on March 26, 2020, an order was signed amending his conditions of release. This allowed Olheiser to be released on a $50,000 bond if he made the requisite $5,000 cash deposit.

Then on May 12, 2020, exactly two months after the negligent homicide occurred, Olheiser was charged with possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine. He later pleaded guilty to this charge as well.

Olheiser’s mother, LaVonne Wojahn, took to the witness stand and testified on his behalf.

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“Jeremy was scared and upset with what David was trying to do to him… He was a victim too,” she said. “I wish you would’ve called for help Jeremy.”

Stark County Assistant State’s Attorney James Hope prosecuted the case, and expressed dismay at Olheiser’s “depravity.”

“Jeremy never asked his cousin if he was okay after he shot him,” Hope said. “He walked out, just left him there… No call to 911, no call to the police. He just starts cleaning things up, cleaning up blood, getting rid of clothes, removing items.”

Olheiser’s attorney, Public Defender Kevin McCabe, laid out a different case. He said that under slightly different circumstances he could have been representing David Galster, who he said knew that Olheiser always carried a gun on his person.

“Jeremy warned David to stop and leave, but David didn’t listen and continued to assault him. Jeremy had no alternative but to shoot David. That first shot didn’t stop him, so he shot again” McCabe said. “Jeremy’s consistency has been that David was physically assaulting him in his home while trying to rob him of his money and his drugs.”

Olheiser apologized to Galster’s family for the pain this had caused them. Ehlis subsequently issued her sentence and explained the underlying rationale.

“When you mix people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and weapons, you have to expect the bad things —which is exactly what happened in this case. And I don't believe that you don't understand that,” Ehlis said.

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Jeremy Olheiser consults his attorney during a court recess.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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