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Lakes escapee sentenced

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- A man with two dozen DUI-related convictions was sentenced here Friday to a year in jail for escaping from custody while serving a DUI sentence.

Because of time already served, Daniel Boettcher is scheduled to be released June 10, according to a Becker County Jail official.

"I was kind of miffed at you," Becker County District Court Judge William Walker told Boettcher after handing down the sentence, which was the maximum permitted under the gross misdemeanor charge.

"It (the escape) made me look like a dunce," Walker added.

Walker told Boettcher, -- who is also known by several other names, including Daniel Bettcher -- that he is a dangerous man.

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The judge warned Boettcher if he continues to drink and drive he may very soon face felony charges based on a new law that is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1.

The current maximum jail sentence for someone convicted of DUI is a year in jail. The new law calls for a minimum mandatory prison term of three years and a maximum of seven.

Because of budget constraints, the legislature is debating whether to push back the law's implementation date to some time in 2003.

Judge Walker said Friday there is little hope Boettcher will ever stop drinking.

But, he told Boettcher, "There is hope you are going to learn to drink ... without driving. That has got to happen."

Boettcher, 49, has been convicted of 25 DUI-related charges.

The escape charge stemmed from July 2000 when he was convicted in Becker County District Court of DUI and having no insurance.

Boettcher admitted in court in April that he did not return to the Becker County Jail in August 2000 after he was released for a work detail while serving time for DUI.

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He was arrested in Nebraska in August 2001 on a Becker County warrant and was returned to Becker County in December. Before that happened, however, Boettcher served 40 days of a 60-day sentence in Nebraska for a DUI incident that occurred there last summer.

Walker gave Boettcher credit for time served since Oct. 7, the date the Nebraska sentence concluded, toward the sentence handed down Friday on the escape charge.

Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for prisoners to serve two-thirds of their sentence behind bars and the remaining one-third on probation.

Under that rule, Boettcher's one-year sentence for escape translates to eight months of incarceration.

Following Friday's hearing, Boettcher's attorney, Simon George, said Boettcher was "disappointed" in the sentence. He said his client asked him to say nothing more about the case.

Becker County Attorney Joe Evans said he was pleased the maximum sentence was imposed. He added, however, current laws cannot address "egregious" offenders like Boettcher.

"Frankly, the law in this case was not adequate to handle this type of offender," Evans said.

Readers can reach Moorhead Bureau Chief Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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