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Attorneys for man accused of manslaughter in fatal fight outside Fargo bar object to introducing shirt

A photo of Darren Patterson posted to his Facebook page. Special to The Forum1 / 3
Darren Patterson2 / 3
Jamie Grant. Special to Forum News Service3 / 3

FARGO — The defense team of Darren Patterson, the man accused of manslaughter and assault in a fatal brawl outside the HoDo last summer, is objecting to two pieces of evidence the prosecution wants to present at trial, according to Cass County District Court documents.

The defense, in documents filed Jan. 11, objects to the introduction of a photo of Patterson posted in 2012 to his wife's Facebook page that shows the man wearing a shirt they say would be unfairly prejudicial to the case.

The defense also objects to evidence that he assaulted another man in 2010 at Dempsey's Public House in Fargo.

Patterson faces felony manslaughter, felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor simple assault charges in connection with a May 27, 2017, fight outside the HoDo Restaurant and Lounge, 101 Broadway N.

According to court documents, Patterson is accused of getting into an altercation with three men, including James "Jamie" Grant. Grant died after he was allegedly punched by Patterson, fell and hit the back of his head on the ground.

Patterson also allegedly knocked Christopher Sang unconscious, and allegedly struck Jamie Grant's brother, Jeffrey Grant, in the mouth.

According to Patterson's defense — led by attorney Bruce Quick of the Vogel Law Firm — the "shirt evidence" and the "Dempsey's evidence" are both inadmissible.

The shirt evidence is improper evidence of character, attempting to infer that Patterson is aggressive or violent and that the shirt is a statement that he would commit a particular bad act and/or was in the state of mind to do so, the defense said in its filing. Overall, the defense said allowing the shirt evidence would be unfairly prejudicial to Patterson.

The prosecution in an earlier filing said the words on Patterson's shirt, which stated "Talk Shit Get Hit," showed his frame of mind and that "he intended to physically injure those who disrespected him."

The defense also wrote that introducing evidence about the Aug. 29, 2010, assault of Casey Carr at Dempsey's Bar is improper "bad act" evidence. In that case, Patterson allegedly head-butted Carr because he believed Carr had disrespected him.

"Evidence of the act (in 2010) is proof of the defendant's intent in this case," the prosecution's notice of intent said.

The defense said the prosecution is trying to imply that Patterson is violent and intended to commit an assault outside the HoDo because he had previously assaulted someone, a connection not allowed by law.

Introducing the Dempsey's assault into evidence would also be unfairly prejudicial, the defense asserted, and is a prosecution attempt to play on the jury's raw emotion.

In December, documents unsealed by the court after objections by Gray Television Group, parent company of Fargo's KVLY-TV, indicated that the prosecution sought to have the shirt and previous assault evidence introduced at trial.

Prosecutors said in unsealed documents that after Patterson and the victims were kicked out of separate entrances to the HoDo, Patterson hurried back to confront the victims as they were walking away.

"Put simply, the defendant intended to assault, and actually did assault, the victims because they had disrespected him," according to the documents. The documents added that multiple witnesses saw Patterson strike and knock two victims to the ground, while no other witnesses saw either victim attempt any strikes against Patterson.

According to the documents, a video confirms Patterson hurried past all entrances to the bar to confront the victims.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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