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Tom Cherveny, Forum Communications, Published December 13 2012

Moorhead man sentenced in fatal 2011 car-pedestrian accident

GLENWOOD, Minn. – James David Poock, 35, of Moorhead, will serve a minimum of three months and possibly up to a year in jail as well as four years of probation as the driver in a fatal car-pedestrian accident on July 23, 2011, in Pope County.

Poock was driving a 2004 Saturn that struck and killed Wes Tessman, 27, of Glenwood, at 1:20 a.m. on Minnesota Highway 114 near Lowry.

During a hearing Wednesday in Pope County District Court in Glenwood, District Judge David Mennis ordered Poock to serve the three months in jail up front.

The judge also ordered him to serve at least 90 days in jail in each of the four years, but he allowed that the jail time in the subsequent three years could be deferred if Poock is meeting all of his probation requirements, according to Pope County Attorney Neil Nelson.

The lengthy list of probation requirements include an obligation that Poock tell his story each year for the Pope County awareness panel, abstain from alcohol, and participate in victim mediation if requested by the parents of the victim.

Poock was sentenced after having pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired and an inattentive driving charge.

He was originally charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, but the felony charges were dismissed. The county attorney said that after the full investigation was completed, and accident reconstruction report submitted, it was determined the evidence was lacking to support a conviction for criminal vehicular homicide.

Nelson called it a “terribly tragic case.”

The victim was attending the Alexandria Technical College at the time of his death. He was a 2002 graduate of the Minnewaska Area High School, where he was a standout in wrestling. He was serving as a volunteer assistant coach at the school at the time of his death.

He is survived by his parents, Wes and Toni Tessman. His father has been the head wrestling coach at Minnewaska for more than 20 years, according to published reports at the time of the accident.

Tom Cherveny writes for the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn.