Man sentenced to five years in Fargo hit-and-run case
The Forum FARGO -- Julie Hill spent Mother's Day picking out her daughter's casket. The East Grand Forks, Minn., woman told a courtroom Monday the holiday is forever ruined without her daughter, 18-year-old Torri Knutson. Hill gave an emotional s...
FARGO -- Julie Hill spent Mother's Day picking out her daughter's casket.
The East Grand Forks, Minn., woman told a courtroom Monday the holiday is forever ruined without her daughter, 18-year-old Torri Knutson.
Hill gave an emotional statement in Cass County District Court after Michael Paul Sauvageau pleaded guilty to driving drunk and causing Knutson's death.
Sauvageau, 27, of Fargo will serve five years in prison for a manslaughter conviction stemming from the May 12 hit-and-run crash.
Assistant State's Attorney Gary Delorme said Sauvageau was drunk and driving up to 20 mph over the speed limit when he hit Knutson, who was walking in a crosswalk in the 1300 block of North University Drive in Fargo.
Knutson, also of East Grand Forks, died hours later from her injuries at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo.
Sauvageau's father, Greg Sauvageau of Fargo, called police to turn in his son.
During the court hearing, Hill and about a dozen family members and friends wore shirts and buttons with Knutson's picture and carried framed photo collages.
They wiped away tears as Hill described what it was like to get that early morning phone call about the crash.
When Hill arrived at the hospital, Knutson had tubes coming out of her and doctors said she was very critical and nearly brain dead, Hill said.
"I told her to hang on because she was a fighter," Hill said. "I promised we would get whoever did this to her."
Moments later, Knutson went into cardiac arrest and "didn't come back," Hill said.
Hill told Judge Douglas Herman her family was disappointed with the recommended five-year sentence and asked him for justice.
"I just figure my daughter's life is worth more than a few years," Hill said.
Herman said the sentence was based on similar cases in Cass County. He told Sauvageau there's no sentence that would soften the blow for the family or adequately punish him.
"You'll have to deal with that for the rest of your life," Herman said.
After the hearing, Hill and her family said they plan to fight for stronger sentences for drunken driving cases that result in deaths.
"I don't think justice was served," said Rick Hill, Knutson's stepfather.
Delorme said mitigating factors were considered when determining the sentence.
Knutson was intoxicated at the time of the incident, with a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit for driving, Delorme said.
Sauvageau's remorse for the incident also factored in, Delmore said.
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed charges of felony duty in an accident involving death or injury and Class B misdemeanor driving under the influence.
Sauvageau also pleaded guilty Monday to two other charges, including felony theft of $11,000 of copper wire. He will serve the sentences at the same time.
Sauvageau's family declined to comment. His attorney, Steve Light, did not return a call seeking comment.
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