WILLMAR -- Bronson Cody Evenson, 20, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of first-degree criminal damage for driving his pickup through multiple crop fields near Willmar and Pennock, causing thousands of dollars in lost crop yields.
As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, two additional felony property damage charges and a misdemeanor charge for driving after suspension will be dismissed and Evenson will pay restitution on all charges. He will be sentenced Jan. 8.
According to an affidavit of restitution, two of the property owners claim $11,699.99 in damage to their crops. The total estimated damage, including the property of a third person, is at least $13,000 in lost yields.
The charges were filed after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office received reports July 28 and 29 from farmers that someone had driven a vehicle through their fields near the Willmar airport and north of Pennock. The volume of corn stalks left on the roadway near the fields by the airport led deputies to believe that there would be corn plants stuck to the vehicle.
On July 30, a citizen reported that he had seen a young man removing corn stalks from his vehicle along Ninth Street in the southeast part of Willmar. The citizen recalled reading a news report about damage to fields and thought the agricultural foliage on the vehicle was suspicious.
Deputies found the vehicle, a 1995 Chevy pickup registered to Evenson, and noted that it had soybean leaves in the front grill, wheat tops on and around the vehicle and corn leaves and plants hanging from the underside of the pickup.
The pickup, which was then towed by the Sheriff's Office, was also missing pieces from the front end.
Evenson admitted to a detective that he and a friend had driven through the fields after leaving a party near Pennock. Evenson was escorted to the damaged fields by a detective and admitted to causing the damage and to driving without a valid license.
Evenson's friend was also contacted and admitted to damaging the fields.