WORTHINGTON - James Lee Miller, 67, of Cylinder, Iowa, made an appearance in Nobles County District Court this week for arraignment on two felony charges - criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation.

The charges stem from a fatal accident that occurred on Sept. 19, 2014 at the intersection of Nobles County 35 and Minnesota 264 that resulted in the death of Charles Luze, 49, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

According to court documents, Miller was driving a semi-tractor trailer loaded with seed corn on his way back from Montana. Miller allegedly told officers he’d been trying to make a phone call using a Bluetooth headset when his rig collided with a Farner-Brocken branded semi-tractor trailer driven by Luze. Luze’s son, Samuel, was also in the rig and was injured in the crash.

At Tuesday’s hearing, counsel for both sides met in judge’s chambers to discuss scheduling and procedural issues while supporters for Miller and Luze waited in the courtroom. When the lawyers returned, Miller entered pleas of not guilty on all charges in the case.

Defense counsel noted if the case continues to trial, it will likely be a four-day trial. However, it is possible the case will be resolved beforehand.

Miller’s next appearance in court is a settlement conference scheduled for October. Conditions of Miller’s release set in September of last year remain in effect. He is to remain law-abiding, make all future court dates, remain in contact with attorney and probation and refrain from using a cellular phone in a motor vehicle.

Criminal vehicular homicide carries a maximum sentence of not more than 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. Criminal vehicular operation carries a maximum sentence of up to three years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Additionally, Miller is charged with reckless driving and careless driving, both misdemeanors and failure to stop at a stop sign, a petty misdemeanor.

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