100-year prison sentence overturned for Minot man who killed his father – InForum
BISMARCK — A 100-year prison sentence for a Minot man convicted of murdering his father in 2019 has been overturned.
The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled last year’s sentence against Christopher Alan Vickerman, 32, illegal, according to a notice released Thursday (November 10th). A new hearing has not been set for Friday.
Vickerman faced life in prison without parole after a jury found him guilty of shooting dead Mark Vickerman, 55, on May 10, 2019.
Ward County Judge Douglas Mattson sentenced Vickerman to 100 years, although he only had to serve 80 years if he had not violated supervised probation for five years after his release . The defendant also had nearly three years of credit for time spent awaiting trial.
The two Vickermans had a rocky relationship and argued over business, money and custody of Christopher Vickerman’s children, Minot Daily News reported. The defense claimed Christopher Vickerman was schizophrenic and had no control over his actions, but prosecutors said no mental health professional found him unfit to stand trial, the newspaper wrote.
Prosecutors also claimed Christopher Vickerman planned the murder for months, the Daily News reported.
Mattson called Christopher Vickerman’s conduct “despicable”, according to court documents. The judge said he handed down the long sentence in an effort to make it harder for the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to release him sooner, according to court documents.
Defendants convicted of murder can apply for parole after serving 85% of their sentence. If a person is sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, judges are supposed to determine the life expectancy of the convict so that the DOCR knows the estimated release date.
Vickerman was scheduled to be released from the state penitentiary in 2087.
If the sentence stood, Vickerman would have served 66 years and would have been 96 when he was eligible for parole. Vickerman’s appeals attorney, Robert Martin, argued that Mattson gave Vickerman a sentence that exceeded his life expectancy.
The state high court agreed.
Martin also argued in the state Supreme Court that his client deserved a new trial. Martin claimed Mattson should not have allowed prosecutors to present Mark Vickerman’s statements to jurors, including one in which the father said police should turn to his son if Mark Vickerman had died by violence.
Others testified to the father’s fears that Christopher Vickerman could harm him.
The statements were admissible in court because they showed the state of mind of the victim before his death, the Supreme Court ruled.