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Long Prairie Trucker Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter in North Dakota

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

Authorities say 56-year-old James Toner, of Long Prairie, Minnesota 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, North Dakota 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.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved)

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