Second conviction reached in Thirsty's case
A second man has been convicted in connection with a pair of Sept. 30 incidents at Thirsty's Bar in Mitchell.
Thomas Somerville, 38, of Mitchell, pleaded no contest Thursday through his attorney to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for grabbing 36-year-old Clint Dreyer, of Fargo, N.D., by the throat and shoving him to the ground inside the bar.
Somerville, a manager at Thirsty's, was fined $500 plus $66 in court costs and sentenced to 30 days in jail. The jail time was suspended on the condition he pay the fines and costs within 30 days, and enrolls in the state 24/7 Sobriety program for one year.
If Somerville violates the terms of the program, he will serve immediate jail time -- five days for the first offense, 10 days for the second offense and 15 days for the third offense.
Somerville did not personally appear in court Thursday, but was represented by his attorney, Cynthia J. Ahrendt, Sioux Falls.
He had pleaded not guilty to simple assault in December. His case was scheduled to go to trial on April 17.
The incident involving Somerville took place earlier on the same night Dreyer was severely beaten by 34-year-old William Watkins, of Mitchell, in the parking lot of Thirsty's.
Watkins was sentenced to 13 years in prison, with five years suspended, and ordered to pay more than $650,000 in restitution on Feb. 21 for an aggravated assault conviction that arose from the attack.
According to a Mitchell police report, Dreyer is seen on Thirsty's surveillance footage sitting at the bar and speaking with Somerville's fiancée Danielle Joliff, who also works at Thirsty's, and another bar waitress before the incident between Somerville and Dreyer occurred. The report notes Somerville was "very obviously out of ear-shot of any casual conversation that may have taken place" between Dreyer and Joliff, and adds the series of events leading to the incident took place only one minute after Somerville helped move Watkins away from Dreyer.
The report states the footage shows Somerville saying something to Dreyer immediately before the incident occurs, but does not specify what was said or what could have possibly provoked the attack.
More than six months after the attack, Dreyer, who suffered severe head injuries, is apparently still in treatment. Updates about him are posted on a page at caringbridge.org.
A benefit for Dreyer will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tripp-Delmont School gym in Tripp.
Dreyer's mother, Vicki Hubner, filed a lawsuit in December against the parent company of Thirsty's Bar, V.V. Inc., and its owner Doug Aslesen. The lawsuit accuses Thirsty's Bar of negligence and claims more than $75,000 in damages.