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North Dakota judge sentences driver to life without parole for 'horrific' hit-and-run

Wade Bison admitted to killing 77-year-old Erwin Geigle, of Mandan, by running him over multiple times with a white Ford F250 pickup truck on March 21.

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Wade Bison, left, and defense attorney Steven Balaban, right, listen to District Judge Douglas Bahr speak during a sentencing hearing in Mandan, North Dakota, on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Bison was sentenced to life without parole for killing a 77-year-old pedestrian in a hit-and-run collision.
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service
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MANDAN, N.D. — Wade Bison will spend the rest of his life in prison for a road rage-fueled murder that a judge called "horrific, completely unprovoked and random."

Bison, 39, has admitted to killing 77-year-old Erwin Geigle, of Mandan, by running him over multiple times with a white Ford F250 pickup truck on March 21.

Last month, Bison pleaded guilty to felony counts of murder, leaving the scene of an accident, terrorizing and reckless endangerment. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and driving under suspension.

District Judge Douglas Bahr sentenced Bison to life without the possibility of parole on Wednesday, July 13, noting that the flagrancy of the crime and Bison's long rap sheet suggest he would likely reoffend if ever released from prison.

Bahr also ordered Bison to pay about $11,000 in restitution, mostly to Geigle's family, though the judge acknowledged the amount was unlikely to be paid.

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Neither Bison nor any of Geigle's family members spoke during the sentencing hearing.

Surveillance video showed the pickup driven by Bison make a sharp turn and drive toward Geigle, who was walking to the entrance of All Seasons Arena to pick up his granddaughter from a morning sports practice.

Bison slammed Geigle into the side of All Seasons Arena next to Mandan High School. The school went into lockdown after the collision, which was witnessed by students, parents and teachers.

A juvenile witness told authorities he saw the pickup "ram a guy against the building," before backing up and running into the man two more times, court papers said. Another juvenile witness estimated the pickup was going about 15 to 20 mph when it struck Geigle.

Witnesses reported that the pickup truck quickly left the arena parking lot after striking Geigle multiple times.

Police arrested Bison later that day after a pursuit that ended when he crashed the pickup truck into another vehicle.

According to prosecutors, Bison said he didn’t know Geigle and that he was the only one in the truck during the hit-and-run. Bison, who has a history of meth-related convictions, said he was not drunk and only a little high at the time, prosecutors said.

The defendant previously stated he struck Geigle because he was upset that the pedestrian stepped in front of him.

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Bison has a long rap sheet with 54 prior convictions of various levels of severity. Before his latest arrest, Bison had violated probation and failed to report to his probation officer on many occasions, a probation officer testified Wednesday.

Prosecutor Gabrielle Goter said Bison has been given so many chances to leave a life of crime behind and it's clear "he's not going to change."

In arguing for the harshest possible sentence of life without parole, Goter said Bison "didn't show any mercy to Mr. Geigle, and I don't think this court should show him any mercy either."

Through his lawyer, Bison requested a 10-year sentence with five years suspended — a suggestion that Judge Bahr called "almost offensive to the court" given the horrifying nature of the crimes.

"I'm concerned that members of our community, anyone, can be randomly put at risk if Mr. Bison is ever out in our community again," Bahr said.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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