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Man pleads to fleeing and drug charges in high-speed police pursuit near New London, Minn.

WILLMAR -- Charles William Skaife, 51, of Brooklyn Center and formerly of Benson, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two felony charges for fleeing a peace officer in a vehicle and for drug possession for a November 2010 police pursuit near New London that had included speeds of 100 mph and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Skaife entered Alford pleas to the charges in Kandiyohi County District Court. He will be sentenced Feb. 23. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but does acknowledge that there is likely enough evidence for a jury to convict them of the crime.

The plea came one day before Skaife was scheduled for a jury trial before District Judge Kathryn N. Smith.

The charges, along with gross misdemeanors for driving while impaired, giving a false name to a peace officer and lesser charges of speeding, driving after revocation and drug paraphernalia possession, were filed after Nov. 19, 2010, when a Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputy stopped Skaife's vehicle for speeding along state Highway 23 between New London and Hawick. Skaife gave the deputy a false name and date of birth, appeared to be impaired by drugs or alcohol and then drove away from the deputy.

The deputy pursued as Skaife drove south toward New London, at speeds of 100 mph. Skaife's vehicle went into the median after the deputy used a pursuit intervention technique to push the vehicle, but Skaife drove back on the roadway and northbound on Highway 23 in the southbound lanes. The pursuit ended when the officer used another maneuver to push Skaife's van, which rolled into the ditch.

Because he was injured, Skaife was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar by ambulance and then transferred to St. Cloud Hospital. Because of the transfer, the deputy was unable to perform the implied consent advisory required for driving while impaired charges. A State Patrol trooper then was sent to St. Cloud Hospital, where Skaife refused testing and said he wanted to contact an attorney.

The vehicle was impounded by the Sheriff's Office and a later search revealed a meth pipe.

On Dec. 2, the Sheriff's Office was contacted by the towing company, who had found a package of white substance while cleaning out the vehicle. The substance was tested and found to be 1 gram of cocaine.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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