FARGO — The first moments police spoke with a Fargo man who is now charged in connection to a crash that killed one of his sons and critically injured another can be heard in newly-released audio obtained by WDAY News.
At the beginning of the eight-minute recording, an officer with the Fargo Police Department can be heard trying to communicate with 31-year-old Christopher Lee Devine, who was in the hospital after the March 23 crash where police said his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit to drive.
According to court documents, Devine was driving north on University Drive South in a vehicle with his two sons and another passenger when he lost control and slid across four lanes before crashing with another vehicle near the 13th Avenue intersection.
Devine's 7-year-old son died on March 26 and his 5-year-old son was critically injured in the crash. Devine is charged with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular injury in connection to the incident.
After the crash, police obtained a warrant to test Devine's blood-alcohol level. While at the hospital, they informed him that he was under arrest for driving under the influence — though their recording shows it takes a few minutes for the officer to get through to him.
"Wake up for a moment. The officer needs to talk to you," a person can be heard yelling in the hospital room.
"Chris, over here. My name is Officer Nelson with Fargo PD. I need to talk to you for you a little bit, can you keep your eyes open for me?"
It takes about a minute and a half before Devine responds, and he only mumbles. An officer can be heard informing Devine that he is under arrest for DUI.
Devine can then be heard groaning and another minute passes before he starts talking to the officer, who reads him his rights.
Then, an officer and another person in the room can be heard trying to keep Devine's attention, saying his name and telling him to open his eyes.
An officer can be heard asking Devine to consent to a blood test. But Devine doesn't respond after the officer reads him the informed consent statement. After being asked to open his eyes again, Devine replies "I'm sorry."
About four minutes into the recording, an officer starts asking Devine questions about what led up to the crash. When the officer asks him how much he had to drink, Devine replies: "A lot."
Devine can be heard in the recording telling police that he was going home. When asked if the vehicle involved in the crash was the one he usually drives, Devine can be heard saying "No. Yes. My car . . . I was going to get a pack of cigarettes."
According to court documents, Devine said he did not remember the crash. A preliminary report showed Devine's vehicle was going 74 mph four seconds before the crash and about 59 mph one second before the crash. The speed limit where the crash happened on University Drive is 35 mph.
A blood test would show that Devine's blood-alcohol level was 0.267, court documents state. The legal limit to drive is 0.08. Jacob Larson, the front-seat passenger injured in the crash, said he and Devine were drinking beforehand, according to court documents.
The Forum and WDAY previously reported that Devine's attorney at one point attempted to keep the blood test results out of evidence in court, arguing that the implied consent advisory officers read to Devine failed to meet standards set by the North Dakota Supreme Court.
But because officers had obtained a search warrant before hospital staff had drawn Devine's blood, Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Ryan Younggren argued the question of consent wasn't up for debate.
In August, a judge agreed with the state and ruled the blood test results were admissible in trial.
Devine is still being held in Cass County Jail, where he was booked after being moved there from the hospital on March 28. His bail was set at $500,000 on March 29.
A dispositional conference in the case is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 11, where the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney will work to establish a schedule for the case and discuss whether a plea bargain is in the works or if the case will go to trial.