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Bob and Diane Morgan, Published January 30 2011

No justice in traffic death case

What is wrong with the judicial system in North Dakota? How could Judge Lisa Fair McEvers issue only a 10-day jail sentence to Neil Walton, the man responsible for the deaths of Rob and Deb Baumbach? Walton had numerous traffic violations, all of which occurred prior to the April 18, 2010, accident that killed the Baumbachs.

In the Aug. 17, 2010, edition of The Forum, an article stated that the North Dakota Supreme Court website indicated that Neil Walton had been convicted of several driving-related charges: March 2007, a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving; December 2007, he pleaded guilty to disregarding a stop sign in Ransom County (sound familiar to the Baumbach accident?); November 2008, cited in Ransom County going 103 mph in a 55 mph zone, and pleaded guilty to this charge in early 2009. His sentence for this speeding violation was that Walton was to complete a defensive driving course. Did he ever complete this course?

How can a man with his record of traffic violations get only a 10-day jail sentence for running a stop sign while going 55 mph at a wide-open intersection with no obstructions, missing a “Stop Ahead” road sign, three sets of rumble strips and two large stop signs on both the south and north entrance onto Highway 81? This man is a local farmer who I would suspect has traveled this road many times. I don’t think he intended to stop at all. Just look at his traffic record. He appears to have had very little if any respect for the traffic laws of the state.

Judge Fair McEvers said, “I don’t see any real purpose in punishment” in explaining the sentencing. Has the North Dakota winter frozen her mind? I don’t understand how you can break the law, running a stop sign at 55 mph and killing two people and only be charged with a misdemeanor. Someone should do something with the traffic laws in North Dakota so another family doesn’t have to suffer through another ordeal like this.

The Morgans are Deb Baumbach’s parents.