The man accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a Montana man could receive a second preliminary hearing if a judge accepts his lawyer’s arguments.

For the time being, Ryan Nordstrom’s attorney was able to stymie the state’s effort to amend its theory of how the defendant allegedly committed the crime.

Officials say that on Oct. 20, Nordstrom was driving south on Interstate 25 near Bar Nunn when his Chevrolet Cruze rear-ended a U-Haul trailer being towed by a Ford pickup. The impact caused the pickup to cross into the oncoming lane and flip over, killing 27-year-old Daniel Barto.

Barto was moving his family from Montana to Texas. His wife and two children were also in the truck but were not seriously hurt.

Nordstrom’s case was bound over to District Court in October, after

a Circuit Court judge ruled there was probable cause he committed aggravated vehicular homicide.

At a Thursday morning hearing, Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen argued that not only did Nordstrom operate his vehicle in a reckless manner, he was also driving under the influence.

Itzen said the defendant’s blood tested positive for Spice, a synthetic marijuana.

Nordstrom’s attorney, Kurt Infanger, said including this evidence would mean that the state would have to prove a completely separate offense under a different statute.

“At a minimum, if the state wishes to amend this information, Nordstrom has to be afforded the opportunity to challenge the issue of whether probable cause exists,” Infanger said.

The defense attorney also contended that the negative publicity Spice has received recently would provoke undue prejudice against his client.

Itzen argued the information should be allowed in the court case since the charge has not been changed. He added that because of previous actions and consequences, the defendant must have known he was acting recklessly.

District Judge Catherine Wilking did not rule Thursday on the prosecution’s request.

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Reach crime reporter Megan Cassidy at 307-266-0534 or megan.cassidy@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @meganrcassidy.


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