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Ponsford man gets 79 months for 'tale of tragedy' DWI

William Lawrence Butcher

A Ponsford man was sentenced to 79 months in prison for his 12th DWI conviction.

"This is a tale of tragedy," Judge Robert Tiffany told William Lawrence Butcher, 48.

"Thankfully you did not kill yourself or your passenger on the roadways."

Tiffany reminded Butcher that DWI laws were passed to avoid "mayhem" on public roads, and told Butcher his driving history indicated a "total disregard" for those statutes.

Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said "the defendant has been in the system for the past 20 years. He has a significant criminal history in which chemicals were probably used in most if not all of the offenses.

"He poses a significant risk to public safety," Dearstyne told the court in recommending the top range of sentencing guidelines that called for 57 to 79 months behind bars.

Public defender Jennifer Nelson, in recommending a mid-range sentence of 66 months, said a mandatory five-year supervised probation period after the jail time was served, was sufficient to ensure public safety would be taken into consideration.

"He was convicted based on physical control of the vehicle," Nelson said. "The car was not engaged in any way, shape or form."

"I wasn't driving that night," Butcher told the judge, adding he has become "a born-again Christian."

Butcher's mother was in the courtroom and was allowed a brief visitation with her son.

Tiffany noted Butcher has been through alcohol treatment at least four times.

Because he is indigent, Tiffany did not impose a fine. He urged Butcher to "embrace" treatment options offered in prison.

"I hope you find some sobriety as you go forward," the judge said.

Butcher was arrested Dec. 31 west of Park Rapids. His vehicle was stopped off the main Highway 34.

In May a jury convicted him of two counts of First Degree DWI and Driving After Cancellation Inimical top Public Safety.

On that charge Tiffany sentenced him to one year that will be served concurrently with the main sentence.

Under Minnesota statutes, he must spend two-thirds of his time in custody. If he is eligible for a good behavior release, he would serve the remaining one-third of the time under supervised probation. After that, the mandatory 60 months of supervision would begin.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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