Man sentenced to three years in manslaughter case

Justin Crites addresses the family and friends of Jay LePage during his sentencing hearing Thursday, Dec. 17.

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.

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