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Published October 28 2010

Second guilty plea accepted in fatal Richland crash

A Dilworth woman who was behind the wheel in a fatal van rollover in 2008 pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Wednesday in Richland County District Court, the prosecutor said.

Melanie Flegel, 39, faced a more serious manslaughter charge linked to a van crash on County Road 81 on Nov. 15, 2008, that killed Ricky Santiago, 42, of Fargo.

Ron McBeth, assistant Richland County state’s attorney, said Flegel’s plea deal calls for up to one year in jail, with an understanding that Judge Daniel Narum may adjust the jail or prison time following a pre-sentence investigation.

It was the second time Flegel tried to plead guilty. Narum rejected a Sept. 22 deal calling for a year in jail on a manslaughter charge because he wanted a longer pronounced sentence that wouldn’t convert to a misdemeanor, McBeth said.

Narum could give Flegel up to five years in prison on the conviction for negligent homicide, which is a Class C felony. Manslaughter is a Class B felony that carries up to 10 years.

No specific date was set, but a sentencing hearing is expected to be held in February, McBeth said.

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