- Associated Press - Thursday, June 14, 2018

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A man accused in a fatal brawl outside a downtown Fargo bar pleaded guilty Thursday in a deal with prosecutors that calls for 18 months in prison.

Darren Patterson, formerly of Fargo and now of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the May 2017 death of James “Jaime” Grant, after an altercation that began inside the Hodo Lounge. Authorities say Grant fell after he was punched by Patterson and hit his head on the sidewalk. He never regained consciousness and died the following month.

Police say Patterson punched two other men who were with Grant at the bar, leading to a second charge of aggravated assault. Patterson entered an Alford plea to that charge, which means he doesn’t admit wrongdoing but acknowledges there’s enough evidence for a conviction.

Attorneys on both sides said afterward that it’s a fair plea deal and acknowledged that the trial scheduled for next week would have centered on who started the altercation.

“Clearly there are self-defense and defense of others facts that would have been addressed at trial,” Mark Friese, an attorney for Patterson, told The Associated Press. “And the evidence shows there was plenty of fault to share.”

Cass County prosecutor Ryan Younggren said the Grant family is “very pleased” with the guilty plea.

“Is 18 months a full measure of justice in this case?” Younggren said. “I don’t know that we would all say that but we would all say it’s a reasonable resolution to the case.”

The sentence, which must be approved by a judge, does not call for Patterson to be placed on probation after he serves his sentence. Friese said Patterson is a “professional businessman and family man” who does not suffer from any type of dependency or abuse issues.

“We don’t necessarily have an individual who might have trouble keeping up a stable lifestyle,” Younggren said. “All indications we otherwise had, the defendant had a very stable lifestyle.”

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