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Dave Roepke, Published January 18 2011

Driver who caused crash that killed Fargo couple sentenced to 10 days in jail

FARGO - On the nine-month anniversary of the crash killing Fargo couple Rob and Deb Baumbach, the driver who caused the collision when he missed a stop sign was sentenced to 10 days in jail this morning.

Family members pleaded with Cass County District Court Judge Lisa Fair McEvers to give Neil Walton a longer sentence after he pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor.

“He needs to suffer for his actions, as we’ve suffered these last months,” said Steve Roerick, uncle of Rob Baumbach.

Rob and Deb Baumbach were riding motorcycles on Highway 81 when Walton, who was talking to a friend in the passenger seat, failed to see a stop sign as he was heading west on Highway 18. Traveling about 55 mph, Walton drove through the intersection as the Baumbachs hit the side of his truck and were killed.

Walton was not speeding and was not intoxicated, investigators determined.

Cass County prosecutors had asked for a 180-day jail stint for Walton, a 32-year-old farmer of Lisbon, N.D., but Fair McEvers said the tragic accident didn’t call for much time behind bars.

The maximum sentence would have been one year.

“I don’t see any real purpose in punishment,” Fair McEvers said. “This could have happened to probably any of us.”

In addition to the 10 days in jail, Walton will be on supervised probation for 1½ years and is required to do 50 hours of community service.

For the full story, read The Forum on Wednesday.