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Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in ND death

  • Associated Press
  • May 9, 2014 - 7:05 AM

WAHPETON, N.D. — A man charged with murder in a fatal hit-and-run in southeastern North Dakota a year ago has pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and family members of the victim are calling the plea agreement an injustice.

Dakota Sutton, 23, of Brampton, was charged in the April 2013 death of Reavis Dandridge, 28. Prosecutors said Sutton forced Dandridge out of his truck on a road in Oakes, then ran him down and left him for dead.

Sutton pleaded guilty on Thursday to manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident involving death and driving under the influence, under a plea agreement with prosecutors, who dropped the murder charge, WDAY-TV reported (http://bit.ly/RwVSqU ).

The maximum sentence Sutton will face on the three charges to which he pleaded guilty is about 20 years. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, compared to life behind bars for murder. A sentencing date was not immediately set.

"(Sutton) was a coward," said Reavis Dandridge's mother, Willie Dandridge, who lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. "The way my baby died out there and for them not to give (Sutton) but 20 years, that's nothing. That's worse than a slap in the face."

Sargent County Sheriff Travis Paeper said he has spent countless hours investigating the case and understands the family's frustration but that "there are some answers we will never get."

Prosecutor Lyle Bopp said he stands by his decision to not take the case to trial.

"Weighing all the facts and the alternatives that could have happened, I do feel comfortable with this decision," he said.

© 2014 Star Tribune