Trial scheduled in reckless endangerment related to October death

2013-04-16T11:42:00Z Trial scheduled in reckless endangerment related to October deathBy JENNY MICHAEL | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

An August trial has been scheduled for two Mandan men accused of failing to get help for a man who later died from injuries sustained in a fight.

Christopher Vernon, 34, and Joseph Houle, 29, have pleaded not guilty to Class C felony reckless endangerment in the death of 30-year-old Derek Oshkeshequoam. The charges carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Vernon and Houle are slated to stand trial in the case Aug. 19 to Aug. 23 at the Morton County Courthouse before South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell.

Vernon and Houle lived in a home at 407 First St. N.E. in Mandan and had a party on Oct. 26 and into the morning hours of Oct. 27, 2012, according to court documents. Witnesses said Oshkeshequoam got into an argument with another man and they went outside to fight.

Oshkeshequoam was knocked unconscious in the street, the witnesses said. Colten Towry, 23, has been charged with manslaughter for allegedly striking Oshkeshequoam. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court again on May 20.

Oshkeshequoam later was moved to the side of the house, then to a mattress in the back yard and eventually to a bed in the basement, court documents said. An officer was allowed to search the home on Oct. 27 while looking for a runaway juvenile. The officer saw Oshkeshequoam and questioned Houle about whether he was OK. Houle said Oshkeshequoam just had too much to drink, court documents said.

Vernon told investigators he got up later in the morning on Oct. 27 and had "forgotten" Oshkeshequoam was in his basement.

Authorities said there was another party at the house on the night of Oct. 27 into the early morning hours of Oct. 28 and a girl at the party found Oshkeshequoam in the basement. The girl told Houle that Oshkeshequoam needed to go to the hospital.

Houle and another man took him to Sanford Medical Center's emergency room but left him there without giving information about what had happened, court documents said.

Oshkeshequoam was pronounced brain dead on Oct. 31.

Reach Jenny Michael at 701-250-8225 or

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