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Park Rapids man receives sentence for 2011 vehicular death

Dean James Roehler

Tears flowed in the courtroom Monday as a Park Rapids man received consecutive jail terms in the vehicular death of a Backus woman last summer.

Dean James Roehler, 23, received a sentence of 57 months in the death of Patricia Borman and an additional 13 months for Fourth Degree DWI in the head-on collision July 14, 2011, on Highway 34 east of Park Rapids.

The crash injured Borman's daughter-in-law Alicia Marie Borman and infant grandson Bryce, who were passengers in the minivan she was driving.

Judge Paul Rasmussen said by law he could only convict Roehler in those charges, or issue a concurrent sentence.

Relatives read victim impact statements from Borman's family members as they wept.

"She was my everything," said Pat Borman's statement. "We were married for 26 years...She was the backbone of the entire family, a mother figure to everyone."

Pat Borman said he cannot bear to go back to the home he and his wife shared.

"She was a beautiful, happy, loving person and you took her away from us," his statement accused Roehler.

Borman's sister read a lengthy statement prepared by Alicia Borman that talked of the "12 months and 28 days" since the accident.

"Our whole world was shattered," Alicia Borman's statement indicated.

Both Alicia Borman and Pat Borman accused Roehler of having no remorse, which angered the defendant's parents.

"How do they know what he's feeling?" Roehler's mother asked her husband.

The accident occurred at dinnertime on the highway as Dean Roehler was westbound on his way to work in Park Rapids. He testified he'd spent the day at Moondance Jam in Walker, but that he drank very little at the music festival.

A 12-member jury convicted Roehler of all 11 counts he faced after a three-day trial in Hubbard County District Court.

Hubbard County prosecutors maintained he was legally drunk when his car crossed the centerline and struck the Borman's eastbound minivan in their own lane. They were on their way to see Borman's mother.

"There were no winners," Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said in asking for a maximum sentence. "The defendant has a severe alcohol problem," he told the court, asking Rasmussen to give the stiffest sentence possible "to send a message and protect the public."

Roehler has been incarcerated in the Hubbard County jail since the jury's verdict last month. His family was also in the courtroom and shed tears at the sentence.

Defense attorney Joe Majors said he would immediately appeal the sentence.

Roehler must serve two-thirds of the prison time, which would amount to around 45 months, then begin his probation.

Roehler choked up when he asked for his turn to speak. In halting language, he told Rasmussen, "You don't know how sorry I was for what happened. I wish it would have been me instead."