Police: Punch from a Prairie Rattler member caused 57-year-old to hit his head on the sidewalk after an argument at The Shop Bar in May

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An argument between two women at a bar in downtown Williston led to a series of events that ended with a 57-year-old dying days later in a Minot hospital.

Police say that 26-year-old Justin Crites, also known as Preacher, attacked Jay LePage early on the morning of May 4 at The Shop Bar. Crites was charged Friday with manslaughter, a class B felony.

LePage had a broken jawbone and a preliminary autopsy found the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head, according to court documents.

LePage and his wife, Colleen, had gone to The Shop just before closing time early on May 4 to have a drink, and outside the bar, Colleen LePage got into an argument with Jennifer Young, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court. During the argument, Crites stepped in and told Colleen LePage not to disrespect his family.

Special Agent Charissa Remus, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent who wrote the probable cause affidavit, wrote that Crites was referring to Young as family because Crites and her cousin, Glen Davis, were both members of the Prairie Rattlers, a local motorcycle club. Colleen LePage told investigators that she left the bar and went to her car after the incident. 

After about 10 to 15 minutes, bartenders from The Shop came to her car and told her that something had happened to her husband, court records indicate. She said she found Jay LePage lying unconscious on the sidewalk by the bar and that several people told her that Crites had hit Jay LePage.

Young also spoke with investigators and said that after Colleen LePage went to her car, Crites and Davis moved down the sidewalk to talk with Jay LePage. Davis was apparently angry with Jay LePage because he believed Jay LePage had said something negative about Davis' deceased father.

Young told police that another member of the Prairie Rattlers, referred to in charging documents only as "Porky," was blocking the sidewalk as Crites and Davis approached Jay LePage.  He wasn't allowing anyone to get near the three, investigators wrote.

"Ms. Young stated that another Prairie Rattler member, known to her as 'Porky,' was blocking the sidewalk so nobody could go near them, saying, 'They've got their business, just leave them,'" Remus wrote in the probable cause affidavit.

Young said she didn't see the altercation, but that when she went back in the bar, she saw people running and people driving away on their motorcycles. She saw Jay LePage lying on the sidewalk and Davis later told her that Crites struck Jay LePage, charging documents state.

Investigators also interviewed a witness who knew Crites and was walking near the bar at the time of the incident. The witness said Crites ran up to Jay LePage, struck him in the face "with a forceful blow," and that caused Jay LePage to fall backwards, court records state.

In the probable cause affidavit, Remus wrote that it appears Jay LePage struck his head on the sidewalk, which caused a brain bleed that eventually lead to his death on May 7 in a Minot hospital.

Crites is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on the manslaughter charge July 3.

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Jamie Kelly
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willistonherald.com




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