BROKEN BOW - David Skeels, 67 of Ansley, was sentenced in Custer County District Court on Thursday, June 18 after he pled guilty in January as part of a plea deal to motor vehicle homicide (class IIIA felony), criminal attempt (class IIIA felony), and reckless driving (class III misdemeanor).

Skeels was charged following a deadly accident in October of 2018 where Skeels failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Cumro Road and Highway 183 and crashed into the passenger side of a Dodge pickup. The impact killed the passenger of the vehicle, Brandon Massman and injured the driver, Wyatt Torticill who was taken to a hospital in Kearney.

Before arguments, Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers read two letters one from Wyatt Torticill and another from the family of Brandon Massman. Torticill stated that due to the actions of Skeels he was now suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and other ailments. Torticill also stated that he believed Skeels feels no remorse for the accident as he never attempted to reach out to the family or help in a direct way at the accident.

In the letter from the family of Brandon Massman, they stated that Brandon’s younger brother will now have to grow up without his role model and the person he looked up to. They stated that their family will never be the same because of the reckless decision Skeels made to run the stop sign.

During arguments, Bowers stated that there were discrepancies in the story Skeels told the probation office for the pre-sentence report and what was told to police at the time of the accident. Skeels claimed that he did a rolling stop and looked both ways, but also stated that he didn’t see the stop sign and the pickup just appeared.

Bowers also said that while Skeels had a limited criminal history this was an accident that was going to happen at some point. Bowers asked the court to sentence Skeels to prison for a term of seven years while also revoking his driving privileges.

Skeels’ attorney, Michael Borders, first argued that the eleven violations were for overweight and axel safety tickets, not for anything driving-related. He also stated that Skeels feels remorse for the accident and is very sorry for what happened, but due to the charges being filed he never could reach out to the family.

Borders did have concerns with the pre-sentence report as it stated Skeels was low risk in all categories, but was not a good candidate for probation based on the victims’ families’ statements. Borders said that Skeels has taken responsibility for the accident and will serve whatever sentence was handed down. Borders asked the court to impose a term of probation and if any jail time were ordered that it be served in the local jail.

Just before being sentenced, Skeels briefly made a comment stating that he was terribly sorry and that he did not want this to happen. Skeels said that he thinks about the accident every day and continues to have nightmares. “I wish I could take that day back,” said Skeels.

Judge Karin Noakes said this type of case is the toughest part of the job where life is lost in an unintentional accident. She stated that this would normally be a traffic infraction if any charges at all, but that this was a needless death. Judge Noakes noted that while Skeels has no significant criminal history, his driving that day was careless and reckless.

She sentenced Skeels to five years of probation and to serve 90 days in the Custer County Jail. Skeels was also ordered not to operate any vehicle that would require a CDL while on probation, not to operate any vehicle for a period of one year, and write apology letters to the victims’ families. Skeels was then remanded into the custody of the Custer County Sherriff.