Vehicular homicide suspect pleads not guilty

2012-11-29T23:45:00Z 2012-11-30T08:59:03Z Vehicular homicide suspect pleads not guiltyCasper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
November 29, 2012 11:45 pm  • 

CASPER — A Michigan man pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with a fatal October crash north of Bar Nunn.

Ryan Nordstrom, 27, appeared briefly in a Casper courtroom to enter his plea. He spoke only to answer procedural questions.

If convicted, Nordstrom faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The crash occurred about 3 p.m. on Oct. 20 as Nordstrom was driving south on Interstate 25. Authorities say his Chevy Cruze rear-ended a U-Haul trailer being towed by a pickup. The truck crossed into the opposite lane and flipped, killing the driver, 27-year-old Daniel Barto.

Barto was moving his family from Montana to Texas.

Witnesses told authorities that Nordstrom was driving recklessly before the crash and appeared lethargic afterward. Investigators say several packages of a synthetic marijuana called “Scooby Snax" were found in the vehicle.

Nordstrom’s attorney has argued the substance has not been shown to be illegal. Prosecutors charged Nordstrom under a section of the vehicular homicide statute that pertains to reckless driving, rather than driving under the influence.

Nordstrom worked in North Dakota and was passing through Wyoming at the time of the crash, defense attorney Kurt Infanger said. The defendant now lives in Michigan and can’t leave his home without being accompanied by one of his parents.

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