The North Dakota Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a man serving 3 years in prison for manslaughter.
In a unanimous opinion, the court summarily affirmed the jury verdict against Justin Crites and also ruled Northwest District Judge Kirsten Sjue wasn’t wrong when she denied Crites’ request for a mistrial.
“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, we conclude substantial evidence exists that could allow a jury to draw a reasonable inference in favor of conviction,” the justices wrote. “Additionally, we conclude the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Crites’ motions for a mistrial.”
Crites was convicted of manslaughter in August 2020. He was accused of causing the death of Jay LePage in May 2019 after an argument outside a Williston bar.
Police and prosecutors said Crites punched LePage, causing him to hit his head on the sidewalk. LePage died days later in a Minot hospital.
Sjue sentenced Crites to 10 years in prison, with seven years suspended. After his release, Crites will serve five years of probation.