Trial date set for Jamestown man accused of negligent homicide
James Charles Lees faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, a Class B felony, and negligent homicide, a Class C felony.
JAMESTOWN — A preliminary hearing and jury trial date have been set for a Jamestown man accused of negligence and wrongful conduct that resulted in the death of a 20-year-old man riding a bicycle in June 2022 about 10 miles north of here.
James Charles Lees, 78, Jamestown, faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, a Class B felony, and negligent homicide, a Class C felony.
On Wednesday, May 3, Southeast District Court Judge Cherie Clark set a preliminary hearing for June 28 and a jury trial for Sept. 5.
Lees made an initial appearance on March 15 in Southeast District Court.
Timothy Wayne St. John, 20, Northbrook, Illinois, was riding a Canyon road bicycle southbound on N.D. Highway 20 near mile marker 10.5 shortly after 12:30 p.m. June 19, while Lees was driving a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado southbound on Highway 20. Lees failed to yield to the bicycle and struck the rear tire, pushing the bicycle and rider into the west ditch, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release about the accident in June.
The patrol said Lees left the scene but returned and found St. John, who was declared dead at the scene after emergency personnel arrived.
Lees told his grandson that he thought his vehicle struck a bike and they notified law enforcement on their way to the scene of the accident, according to a North Dakota motor vehicle crash report. The two located St. John, who was dead, in a ditch, the report says.
No citations were issued by the patrol.
St. John’s parents, Jeffrey and Julie St. John, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lees in U.S. District Court in Fargo in November. The lawsuit says the St. Johns are demanding a jury trial and damages of $150,000 or more.
The lawsuit says Lees’ negligence resulted in the death of Timothy St. John and caused Jeffrey and Julie St. John to suffer serious noneconomic damages and losses including but not limited to past and future mental anguish, emotional distress, grief, sorrow, loss of society, loss of comfort and past and future loss of companionship. The lawsuit says Lees’ negligence caused Jeffrey and Julie St. John to suffer serious economic damages including medical expenses for the care and treatment of their son and funeral and burial costs.
The lawsuit also says Lees’ negligence caused Timothy St. John to sustain personal injuries, and prior to his death experienced serious and significant pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, emotional distress and fear.