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Long Prairie man plead not guilty to ND manslaughter charge

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News Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

FARGO, N.D. — A Minnesota truck driver has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in a crash in the North Dakota city of Fargo that killed a motorcyclist.

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Authorities say 56-year-old James Toner of Long Prairie, Minn., drifted wide to the left with his rig so he could make a right-hand turn at an intersection last June. Twenty-nine-year-old motorcyclist Jason Viestenz of Fargo was trailing and collided with the rig. He died and his 10-year-old son was injured.

Toner’s attorney argued the incident was “a terrible accident” but not a criminal act, and that the manslaughter charge was too harsh. Judge Frank Racek ruled there was probable cause to support the charge, after a commercial driving instructor testified that so-called “jug handle” turns are unsafe.

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