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Published October 19, 2011, 01:24 PM

ND landlord says he didn't know he ran over tenant

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A 73-year-old West Fargo landlord accused of intentionally running over an ex-tenant with his Hummer was distracted by his vehicle's shifter and didn't realize he had run over anyone, his lawyer told a jury.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A 73-year-old West Fargo landlord accused of intentionally running over an ex-tenant with his Hummer was distracted by his vehicle's shifter and didn't realize he had run over anyone, his lawyer told a jury.

Alois Vetter is standing trial in Cass County District Court on felony charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment on allegations he ran over Brian Hemphill outside of a duplex in the 600 block of Second Avenue West in West Fargo.

Vetter's lawyer, Mark Meyer, told jurors in his opening statement that Vetter was scared and didn't know he had run over Hemphill because he was looking down to work the Hummer's shifter and didn't see Hemphill fall, according to The Forum (http://bit.ly/oMVb7U).

But jurors also heard a recording of a frantic 911 call made by Hemphill's roommate, Aaron Knutson, who told the emergency dispatcher, "It happened intentionally."

Knutson said Vetter slowed the Hummer to about 5 mph and bumped into Hemphill before coming to a stop. Vetter was screaming at Hemphill as he ran him down, Knutson said.

Hemphill suffered several broken ribs and a collapsed lung; he was hospitalized for 10 days.

Vetter has filed a federal lawsuit claiming malicious and negligent prosecution by Cass County officials. The suit seeks at least $50,000 in damages.

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