Park Rapids teen enters second plea in traffic case
Nearly a year after a Park Rapids motorcyclist was killed at a rural intersection the legal process started all over for the teenager driving the car that collided with him.
For the family of John Kisner, 42, who was killed when his motorcycle struck the side of Brittany Ann Sayler's car April 17, 2009, the legal developments have taken a frustrating turn.
"Here we go again," one family member whispered in court Thursday during the proceedings.
Sayler, 19, pled guilty in January to failing to yield the right-of-way at the intersection of County Roads 6 and 15.
The plea agreement called for a careless driving misdemeanor charge to be dismissed in return. Both charges carry a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Judge Robert Tiffany, who eventually removed himself from the case, gave Sayler a seven-day jail sentence to start on the anniversary of Kisner's death.
He lectured her that he wanted to send a message to teenage drivers that operating a motor vehicle was a privilege and a responsibility.
Kisner's emotional family members read prepared statements about what his loss has meant to the family.
Sayler's attorney, Michael Hughes of Bemidji, said the plea agreement contemplated no jail time for his client, and immediately filed a motion for Sayler to withdraw her plea. He also asked for Tiffany to step down. Both motions were granted.
Tiffany had previously sentenced Sayler, a 2009 Park Rapids Area High School graduate and now a student at Bemidji State University, on a drunken driving charge in 2007.
Thursday Sayler once again pled guilty in a similar plea agreement. She admitted she pulled onto the highway without yielding to Kisner's motorcycle. The careless driving charge was once again dismissed.
Judge John Smith cautioned Sayler twice, "The issue of sentencing is up to the court to decide."
Sayler indicated she understood.
She is set for sentencing April 30. The court postponed sentencing from an earlier date because it conflicted with a Kisner family matter.
"I don't want to be in court dealing with this," Kirsten Kisner told the judge, objecting to the earlier sentencing date.
Kirsten Kisner and her son Alex had urged Judge Tiffany in January to sentence Sayler to the full 90 days, saying the loss has caused them "indescribable grief."