Update 10 a.m.: Daniel Lee Thompson sentenced in Prinsburg house party death case
WILLMAR -- A 48-year-old Prinsburg man will serve 180 days in jail, be on probation for two years and pay $17,550 in restitution to the family of the 16-year-old girl who died in a car crash after drinking alcohol at his home.
Daniel Lee Thompson was sentenced Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on a gross misdemeanor of providing alcohol to an underage person who died or suffered great bodily harm while intoxicated. He was charged with two felonies of the same charge after the Dec. 3, 2006 death of Megan Maree Bothun of Montevi-deo. The girl died after crashing her car on County Road 80 in Holland Township and after drinking alcohol at a party at Thompson's home.
Thompson was ordered to begin serving a 90-day portion of the jail time at 7 p.m. Monday, with three additional 30-day increments staggered over the next 14 months. The additional jail time can be deferred if he complies with the conditions of his probation. Judge Michael Thompson handed down a sentence of 365 days in jail with 185 days stayed, a $3,000 fine with $2,950 stayed and several unique conditions of probation.
Thompson was ordered to not furnish alcohol to any minor and to not allow any underage drinking at his residence. Judge Thompson did not impose a recommended imposition of the use or possession of alcohol, citing the defendant's lack of a personal alcohol consumption problem and lack of a criminal record.
However, the judge stressed that Thompson was not to provide alcohol to his minor children. Several of Thompson's sons were at the underage drinking party, according to the complaint.
"It might be the best thing you can do to throw out everything you have in that house," the judge said.
Before the sentencing, statements from Megan Maree Bothun's family members were read to the court by county victims services coordinator Bridget Pederson. The girl's grandparents and parents' statements told of family memories of the girl -- and that they had decorated her grave and keep "Megan memorabilia" in each room -- and then asked for stricter laws for adults who provide alcohol to minors and more education for teens on seatbelt use and alcohol.
Bothun's brother Zach told the court that he often recalls the worst day of his life, when police awakened him at his Moorhead apartment around 4:30 a.m. to tell him his only sister was dead. He asked that the sentencing be more than a slap on the hand, that it be enough for Thompson to realize that he had a role in the taking of a 16-year-old's life.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Thompson lamented the long-term problem of underage drinking. While there are many laws on the books, underage parties and parents trying to control young people's access to alcohol are common, he added.
"On any given Friday night, you can find a party with underage drinking," the judge said. The key fact was that Thompson allowed minors to drink at his home. "Whether you actually give her the liquor or not doesn't matter. You bear a very large responsibility."
As part of a plea agreement reached Oct. 1, Thompson pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge.