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State v. Bear

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 12, 2015

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Donald Michael Bear, Defendant and Appellant

Editorial Note:

The opinion cannot be considered final until disposition of such petition for rehearing by the court or expiration of 14 days from filing date.

Appeal from the District Court of Stutsman County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Thomas E. Merrick, Judge.

Katherine M. Naumann, Jamestown, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

Leslie J. Aldrich (argued) and Joshua Nyberg (on brief), Fargo, ND, for defendant and appellant.

Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

OPINION

Kapsner, Justice.

[¶1] Donald Bear appeals from a district court judgment after being found guilty of obstructing a section line. Because there was sufficient evidence to support his conviction, we affirm.

I

[¶2] On November 23, 2013, while patrolling on an alleged section line in a state vehicle, Greg Hastings, a state game warden, followed hunters northwest of Jamestown and struck a large rock, damaging the vehicle. After observing the accident, the hunters approached Hastings, and based on their conversation, Hastings learned Bear had allegedly put the rock in that location. While the vehicle was being towed from the scene, Hastings alerted law enforcement. After an investigation, Bear was charged with violating N.D.C.C. § 24-06-28, a class B misdemeanor, for obstructing a section line because he allegedly placed the rock in question on a section line.

[¶3] At the bench trial, Deputy Metzger, who conducted the investigation, testified that Bear told him he put the rock there to keep somebody from driving in his field. Bear also testified and denied making that statement. Bear admitted he placed the rock there so that if he decided to " break up" the section line, he would not have to farm around a rock pile.

[¶4] Several witnesses described the trail where the accident occurred as a section line. Hastings testified the rock was in the center of the trail, but acknowledged there was a path going around the rock. Witnesses also testified the crash's impact moved the rock an estimated ten to forty feet, and one witness testified the impact actually pushed the rock onto the trail. The State offered two exhibits, prepared by Hastings, mapping the rock's location; however, three witnesses testified the exhibits did not accurately depict the accident location.

[¶5] At the bench trial and at the close of the State's evidence, Bear moved for acquittal. The district court denied his motion ...


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