guilty plea

The Bismarck ND newspaper broke the news yesterday that Nick Caspers, whose trial was to have begun today, has been persuaded to change his plea to guilty as part of a plea agreement.

His maximum possible sentence under the agreement—though not the sentence itself—has been reduced from mandatory-life-without-parole to twenty years. A felony murder conviction will be on his record forever, and even when his as-yet-undermined sentence is served and completed, he will suffer the consequences for the rest of his life.

I tried calling his mother Mikki last night, but there was no answer at her South Dakota home. She is almost certainly in Bismarck on their joyless business. Nick’s attorneys are probably doing their best to raise her spirits, but I am certain this is a difficult undertaking as she comes to terms with the fact that her son and family are entering a frightful and previously unimagined new state of existence.

I’ve been silent about Nick’s case and its background because his attorneys asked me to. I will not be free to tell the full story until the court proceedings are completed, but it’s now becoming clear to me that when I do share it, it will be a narrative about how bad things do sometimes happen to good people.

How bad is still too early to say. It will depend only in part on the severity of the sentence the court will hand down. It will depend more on how Nick uses this experience to learn and to improve his life.

Nick is a young man with very positive qualities, some of which helped get him into this situation. You’ll understand when I tell his story. Those same qualities will, I believe, ultimately be his salvation. Anyone who knows Nick must have faith that he still has a promising future.

It will just be a different future than everyone imagined.


Groove of the Day

Listen to George Harrison performing “So Sad”


5 Responses to “guilty plea”

  1. 1 tom
    November 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Really sorry to hear this.

  2. 2 Julianne
    November 30, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    The sad part is that the parents have been handed a life-sentence of pain and discomfort by their son who doesn’t seem able to control his desire for alcohol or his actions when under its influence.

  3. 3 toremainunknown
    February 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    This is truly a shock to all of us!! As you have stated Nick does have a promising future!! During the sentencing Paul’s family sat up there and stated what a great man, their son and brother were. I feel for his family if they really believed that!They could not have known him, with a man with a criminal history and assaults on his record. They also stated what a great father Paul was to Jack. Hmmm, I have also heard that he had not paid child support for Jack. Thats a good father? Don’t get me wrong I am not attacking him because he is gone, I am just stating what I believe to be true! They made him to look like a saint!! That is far from the truth!!That is no excuse for a life lost, yet how did this fight begin with? Not because Paul was a great guy…because Paul was bullying Nick,I believe Nick went there to try to figure out why Paul hated him so much.
    And for people to talk about Nick like he had a problem with alcohol, because he had been drinking that night is again one sided!! Pauls blood alcohol level was a bac of .27. But you don’t hear a thing about Paul having an alcohol problem. People can’t understand that this was a terrible accident. I know Nick never intended for a life to be lost. If that was the case he wouldve taken a weapon, and he would never have tried to get help for Paul, or administer CPR.

    Thank you Dan for helping portray Nick for who he really is

  4. 4 Family
    March 7, 2011 at 1:31 am

    You are right, Nick has a promising future. He pled guilty to murder and now will only remain in prison for 8 years, at best. Paul has no future, Nick took that away from him and his entire family. What happened in court were readings of victim impact statements, statements that told Nick how he has affected Paul’s families lives. They are a right given to a family who has suffered in a case like this.

    What is disgusting and despicable is that the victim here is being prosecuted. Someone who pleads guilty to murder is not innocent, but if that is what this site and it’s readers/commentors want to believe then I will not wage a war with ignorance. However, as stated in court, it would be respectful if these people would finally let Paul’s family grieve in peace. I don’t have to defend Paul, I know who he was, many people know who he was and many people grieve for him each and every day. No one is a saint or being made out to be one, not Paul and certainly Nick should not be either. The facts of the case are well documented, however, it is interesting how Nick’s supporters only pull out a few of the facts, such as Paul’s bac of .27. They neglect to mention the text messages which are documented and were sent to Paul by Nick telling him he would be killed. They neglect to mention the witness testimony that was given in preliminary hearings.

    I also saw how supporters that were in the courtroom spewed lies on a local newspaper discussion site and proceeded to call Paul’s family “trailer trash” and other demeaning names (I only know they were in the courtroom because they mentioned it in their posts). Well I have read each and every remark before they were deleted. It is trashy and tasteless to speak about the victim’s family in that regard, especailly when you really have no idea who they are. I am the family and have suffered every single day since this happened. I have read every single comment posted. I have read each and every blog on this site.

    Please, finally, let Paul’s friends and family grieve in peace. May you never ever suffer what we have suffered. May you never have to bury someone far before their time. I mean really when is enough going to be enough?

    • March 7, 2011 at 4:43 am

      Hello Kelley,

      Thanks for commenting here. I have had the recurring thought that I should reach out to Paul Varner’s family but didn’t know how—and now you have reached out to me.

      So, will this be the beginning of a conversation? If so, to what purpose? One thing is sure, however: it will not be the beginning of a fight.

      I know that you had previously asked Nick’s mom to tell me to stop writing about what you call the “murder” and what Nick’s family calls the “accident.” But it is not very likely that I will stop writing about it because I call it a “story” and it is a story that has not yet ended—and I am a writer who has been called to write this particular story.

      How the story will develop and where the story will take everyone involved in it is a source of fascination to me—not the kind of cheap fascination one sees when passing traffic slows so people can see the roadside carnage of a car crash—but the fascination of seeing what people do with and make of the tragedy in their lives. To discover and write about such things means getting out of one’s car and helping the injured drivers. I am no drive-by flack.

      Nick’s family has invited me to tell their story, and I will help them do so when it is the right time. (We had agreed that now is not the right time, out of respect for you and your family.)

      If your family wants me to tell its story, I will do that too if you invite me to and if you will speak openly with me. My role is not to judge or take sides. It is to discover truth and potential and to help people heal and grow in the process of that discovery.

      Think about it, pray on it if you are so inclined, and if you would like to talk privately about it, my e-mail address is sowelo2000@yahoo.com.



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