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Perham man pleads guilty in bus driver death

Richard Henry Fisette

A Perham man accused of causing the death of an Anderson Bus driver in Frazee on Oct. 29 has pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal vehicular homicide.

Richard Henry Fisette, 39, of Perham, will serve between 58 months and 68 months in state prison for causing the death of Marlin Roger Miller, 50, of Ponsford.

Miller, a longtime driver for Anderson Bus, was sitting in his parked car in front of the bus company, listening to the early news on his car radio as was his habit.

According to court records, Fisette was driving eastward shortly before 6 a.m. on Juniper Avenue in Frazee when he struck Miller's car on the front driver's side, pushing it into another parked vehicle, which was pushed into a third parked vehicle.

A witness reported Fisette's car was moving faster than the posted speed limit, with the headlights off. Fisette told an officer that the last time he had checked his speedometer he was going 42 mph.

Fisette said he was eastbound on Juniper Avenue when a tire blew, causing his vehicle to strike Miller's car. He admitted he had smoked marijuana and meth the day before and, except for a 90 minute nap the previous afternoon, had not slept all night, either because of the meth high or because he just wasn't sleepy. A sample of his blood was sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

Fisette has 15 prior convictions, including for speeding, theft and DWI dating back to 1998. His most recent speeding ticket was in May. The DWIs were in 2007 and 2008. The four theft convictions were in 2013 and 2014. Most of his offenses were various types of misdemeanors, except for felony DWI.

As part of the plea agreement, Fisette's attorney is allowed to argue for the 58-month sentence, which is the low end of state sentencing guidelines, and the prosecution can argue for the 68-month sentence at the high end of the guidelines.

As part of the plea agreement, Fisette will also pay restitution as claimed by the victim's family, as well as a $50 fine and court fees. Two additional felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide will be dismissed.

The plea hearing was held Jan. 28 before Becker County District Judge Gretchen Thilmony, who ordered a presentence investigation.

Sentencing is set for March 8.