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Fargo man sentenced in north-side fight that turned deadly

Daniel Habiger appears in Cass County District Court on Thursday, Nov. 15. The 30-year-old Fargo man was sentenced in connection with the death of an acquaintance during a fight in March. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum1 / 3
Daniel Habiger, left, listens to a victim impact statement in Cass County District Court on Thursday, Nov. 15. The 30-year-old Fargo man was sentenced in connection with the death of an acquaintance during a fight in March. His defense attorney, Scott Brand, is also pictured. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum2 / 3
Joel Heis of Minot, N.D., was among those who gave a victim impact statement in Cass County District Court on Thursday, Nov. 15. His 32-year-old son, Jarryd Heis, was killed during a fight with Daniel Habiger at Habiger’s north Fargo apartment in March. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum3 / 3

FARGO — Daniel Habiger was sentenced Thursday, Nov. 15, to 14 years in prison in connection with the death of an acquaintance during a fight in March.

Habiger, originally charged with murder, previously pleaded guilty to felony charges of manslaughter and terrorizing, stemming from a fatal fight at Habiger's north Fargo apartment.

He will serve 14 years in prison and three years on supervised probation. He was given credit for having already spent 259 days in jail.

In addition, Habiger was designated as a habitual offender based on two prior assault convictions.

Habiger, 30, pleaded guilty to his charges in September in Cass County District Court after several months of delay due to evaluations that looked into his mental state at the time of the fight, whether he was able to participate in his own defense and whether he was fit to stand trial.

According to court documents, Habiger called 911 from a gas station on March 2, reporting that he had killed someone at his apartment at 701 10th St. N.

Habiger told investigators that he, 32-year-old Jarryd Heis and another man had been drinking. Habiger said Heis threatened him and his family. Habiger told police he “choked out” Heis and kicked him in the head, because Heis was still moving, according to court documents.

"I realize this is a bittersweet day for us," said Joel Heis, Jarryd Heis' father, at Thursday's sentencing. "I don’t know how to explain the pain and sorrow."

Jarryd Heis' brother also gave a statement, saying he believes Habiger "is a good person who made a horrible mistake."

"I just wish for Mr. Habiger that at some point in the future that I can forgive that man for what he's done," Heis' father said. "But at the moment, I can't."

The prosecution asked for Habiger to serve 22 years total for both counts. "The defendant is a violent person, and now he's committed the ultimate violence," prosecutor Reid Brady said.

Defense attorney Scott Brand recommended Habiger serve 10 years in prison and five years on supervised probation. Brand said Habiger did not knowingly or intentionally kill Jarryd Heis and pointed out that Habiger cooperated fully with law enforcement.

In addition, Brand said Habiger has "some serious mental health issues that need to be addressed."

Habiger told the court he did not mean to kill Jarryd Heis and knows that he was wrong, but said he did not deserve the sentence the prosecution requested.

"I'm sorry about what I did," Habiger said.

After the sentencing, Brand said Judge Frank Racek's ruling reflects that while the loss of a life in this matter is undeniable and tragic, it wasn't an intentional killing. Brand said he hopes Habiger takes advantage of every mental health help available to him while incarcerated.