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Erik Burgess, Published October 11 2013

20-year-old Kindred man charged in fatal accident struggling with ‘emotional issues’

FARGO – The attorney for a 20-year-old Kindred man facing felony charges in a fatal car accident says his client is struggling with “emotional issues” after the crash.

Nicholas Scott Milbrandt appeared in Cass County District Court on Friday morning, accompanied by several family members.

Milbrandt is charged with felony manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the death of Royce Rodacker, 61, of Casselton.

Prosecutors allege in court records that Milbrandt was traveling 110 mph in a 75-mph speed zone and texting while driving before rear-ending Rodacker’s vehicle, killing him. The crash occurred just before 6 a.m. Aug. 1 near mile marker 341 on Interstate 94.

“This is a very tragic case with tragic circumstances,” Milbrandt’s attorney Mark Friese said in court Friday.

Milbrandt was not in custody and did not have to enter a plea Friday. He appeared on a summons and is cooperating with both the state and his defense attorney, Friese said.

His next court appearance is set for Nov. 7.

Friese said Milbrandt has been dealing with “emotional issues” following the crash. In his only statement to the court, Milbrandt told the judge he is no longer employed as of Thursday.

“Mr. Milbrandt and his family can’t begin to imagine the difficulty of the Rodacker family and the emotions that they’ve been going through,” Friese said after the hearing. “In a lesser measure, they’ve (the Milbrandts) been dealing with many of the same things.”

Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Tanya Johnson Martinez asked for bail at $5,000 or 10 percent for Milbrandt, though she also said he has been cooperative. Milbrandt posted bail immediately following his hearing Friday morning.

“Mr. Milbrandt has local ties to the community. He’s had regular contact with his attorney. … I’m confident he will continue to make his court appearances,” Johnson Martinez said.

The maximum penalty for Class B felony manslaughter is 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both. The maximum penalty for Class C felony reckless endangerment is five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518