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NDSU student sentenced in fatal I-94 crash

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- A 19-year-old North Dakota college student received a sentence of two days in jail after pleading guilty to a charge of negligent homicide in a crash that killed a Minnesota man on Interstate 94.

Ashley Lauren Birkle, 19, of Killdeer, also pleaded guilty to possession of alcohol by a minor.

Birkle was accused of causing a two-vehicle accident about 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2015, on Interstate 94 that killed David Herold of St. Cloud, Minn.

Court documents state she said she was traveling east from Killdeer to return to classes at North Dakota State University in Fargo when she fell asleep or closed her eyes while driving. While driving through Jamestown, she lost control of her vehicle, which struck a guardrail before crossing the median and striking a truck driven by Herold in the westbound lane of Interstate 94.

Birkle will serve her sentence in the Stutsman County Correctional Center.

Judge John Greenwood on Friday also sentenced Birkle to two years of supervised probation and 80 hours of community service, and ordered her to complete a defensive driving course. The sentence included a two-year deferred imposition of sentence, meaning the conviction can be removed from her record if she meets the requirements of the sentence.

A search of Birkle's phone found text messages made while she was driving concerning a lack of sleep and drinking, although investigators were not able to confirm she was texting at the time of the crash.

In addition to the jail sentence and probation, Birkle was ordered to pay $800 in fines and fees.

Negligent homicide is a Class C felony is punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The alcohol charge is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

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