ND mom seeks charges after 10-year-old son's snowmobile death
GRAND FORKS - Justice for Christmas, that's all one woman wants after her son was killed in a snowmobile crash.
However, the burden is on her shoulders after prosecutors declined to press charges.
Video shows 10-year old Mason Moen opening Christmas gifts last year.
“At least we have our last Christmas taped,” commented his mother Julie.
His favorite gift, headphones that now sit on his urn on the mantle.
“He was just so ecstatic and I don’t get to see that anymore,” recalled Julie.
That's because two weeks after Christmas, Mason was killed in a snowmobile crash.
“It's been hard, it's been rough, but that's why we keep fighting,” explained Julie.
Adding to the wound, this grieving mom says the justice system failed her.
"Do you know how many holidays and birthdays I have had to miss with my son because of their negligence?” said Julie.
She's referring to Traci and Michael Johnson.
Mason was riding the snowmobile at their house near Hatton.
After the deadly crash prosecutors decided there wasn't enough evidence to prove neglect against the two, who were supposed to be supervising Mason and his friend.
They also considered the fact Julie Moen trusted the family with her son.
“I said he could ride a Snowcat in the yard being supervised,” explained Julie.
But the crash happened off the Johnson's property in a farm field. Police estimate it was going 50 mph.
“Justice is jail time,” said Julie.
While the criminal case is closed for now Julie Moen hopes new evidence comes up as the case makes its way through the civil process. The state's attorney has up to 3 years to press charges, and says his office will review any new evidence that may come out of the civil litigation.
“Rarely do criminal charges stem out of a civil case,” commented Mac Schenider a civil litigation lawyer in Grand Forks.
He is not involved with this case. While Moen is hoping for a bombshell from the Johnson's under oath Schneider says that’s rare.
“In the criminal context you have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. In the civil context, in a guardian negligence case, you merely have to prove your case by preponderance of the evidence, more evidence on your side than the other, so two different standards can lead to different outcomes.
Back at the Moen home they are preparing for Christmas without Mason, his stocking hung next to his twin brother’s and a special ornament on the tree to remember him.
“He loved Christmas, he got me up in the morning right away, it's going to be hard,” said a teary eyed Julie.
Hard, but this mother will continue to push for justice.
“If the justice system fails, I know God will be the last one to judge,” she said.
The Johnson’s attorney said the Johnson's deny any negligence and fault, that this was a tragic accident and believe they will be cleared in the civil case as well.
Police never did ID the driver of the snowmobile saying it was too hard to prove, but in the civil court papers each family points the finger at the other boy.