ESCANABA - The court has extended the last day a Garden man can decide whether to plea or go to trial for allegedly striking and seriously injuring an ice fisherman last winter. The hearing took place in Delta County Circuit Court on Monday.
Sept. 21 is the new plea cut-off date for Douglas Duane Barbeau, 27, who allegedly purposely struck a 21-year-old Marquette man who was ice fishing on Garden Bay on Jan. 28.
Barbeau was scheduled for a pretrial conference on Monday, but a decision on making a plea or going to trial was postponed to Sept. 21 due to the prosecution wiating on DNA test results.
While ice fishing with his girlfriend, Bambenek suffered two broken legs after Barbeau accelerated his snowmobile and struck the fisherman, according to testimony presented last month in district court.
Barbeau faces two felonies: assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony; and failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing serious impairment or death, a five-year felony.
Bambenek testified in July that the snowmobiler first drove over one of his tip-ups set up on the ice about 40 feet from his ice shack; after the fisherman yelled, the snowmobiler then turned around, struck him and fled the scene.
Further witness testimony led the court to believe Barbeau was driving the snowmobile and Barbeau's girlfriend was a passenger.
Two passersby on the ice assisted in driving Bambenek and his girlfriend to a local gas station where police and an ambulance had been dispatched. He was taken to Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital then transferred to Marquette General Hospital, where he was admitted for three days.
Bambenek testified last month that he used a wheelchair, a walker, then a cane for four months before he could walk on his own. He cannot run and it is painful for him to walk every day, he added.
Barbeau, who did not have to attend circuit court Monday, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 27, at which time he may decide to make a plea or schedule the case to go to trial.