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Published September 23 2010

Deal rejected for woman charged in 2008 crash

A judge rejected a plea deal Wednesday that would have sentenced a woman to a year in jail in connection with a fatal car accident in 2008, the prosecutor said.

Richland County District Court Judge Daniel Narum refused to accept the guilty plea of Melanie Flegel, 39, of Dilworth, said Richland County State’s Attorney Ronald McBeth.

Flegel faces a manslaughter charge for a rollover car crash in November 2008 that killed a back-seat passenger in her vehicle, Ricky Santiago, 42, of Fargo. Police think she was drinking before the car accident.

Narum said he preferred a longer pronounced sentence that wouldn’t convert to a misdemeanor after it was served, McBeth said.

If a sentence in a felony case is one year or less in North Dakota and probation is successfully completed, the conviction becomes a misdemeanor.

A trial is set for Oct. 19 in the case, but McBeth said he hopes to negotiate another plea agreement.