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Woman sentenced in June car chase

Marchelle Kim Ceryes

A district judge chastised a Fergus Falls woman Thursday for her role in a high-speed pursuit and crash in June that injured a Park Rapids police officer and a seasonal resident.

"Your attorney indicates you're taking this seriously," Judge Robert Tiffany told Marchelle Kim Ceryes, 44. "I hope that's the case.

"At a minimum your actions speak louder than words," Tiffany continued. "You showed a lack of respect for public safety and public norms."

Ceryes entered a guilty plea last month to four charges arising from the June 14 incident that started at Walmart with officers questioning Ceryes about a shoplifting incident.

Tiffany handed her concurrent 180-day sentences for each of three felony crimes, and fined her.

Ceryes said she panicked and took off that day, dragging police officer Carrie Parks nearly two blocks down the Walmart frontage road. She said she was unaware Parks was clinging to the passenger door of the car.

Ceryes then led officers on a high-speed pursuit through Park Rapids that ended near Headwaters Country Club when she struck a vehicle driven by Bonita Larson. Speeds reached 100 mph.

Larson's husband Wayne was in the courtroom Thursday.

"She couldn't bring herself to come," he said of his wife, who suffered a back injury and traumatic stress from trying to avoid the oncoming Ceryes car in her lane.

"You wreaked havoc on the Larson family," Tiffany said. "Thankfully Ms. Larson is still living."

Bonita Larson submitted a written victim impact statement to the court. Parks did not attend the hearing.

"Officer Parks is lucky to be alive," Tiffany noted. "It's a miracle she didn't suffer more serious injuries."

"From the day I came into contact with her she has indicated a willingness to accept responsibility," said public defender Jennifer Nelson of her client.

"She obviously has shown poor judgment," Nelson told the court. "She's relieved no one was more seriously hurt. She (understands she) could have easily been here on a homicide charge."

Nelson said Ceryes had been struggling with depression, family and chemical dependency issues.

"This is her scared straight moment," Nelson told the court.

"It's her wakeup call to address those issues."

Ceryes, who declined to speak on her own behalf, will be jailed in Hubbard County until Aug. 31, when she will be transported to Otter Tail County for a CHIPS hearing.

That is a child protection hearing for a domestic incident she was involved in there.

Then she will be transported to an in-patient chemical dependency treatment program and an after-care program.

Tiffany placed her on supervised probation for three years and a day, during which she is to refrain from alcohol or drug use, submit to random testing, give a DNA sample for the state database and pay restitution for any unpaid medical bills and costs associated with the crash.

She pled guilty to Fourth Degree Assault of a Peace Officer, Criminal Vehicular Operation, Fleeing and Theft, for which she received a concurrent 90-day sentence.

Tiffany warned Ceryes that "you must be candid with yourself, be honest or the program won't work. This program is intended to give you a lift up. Good luck to you."

Sarah Smith

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

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