ROLLA, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota man accused of trying to kill a county deputy in February says he is innocent.

Michael Marion of Dunseith appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to attempted murder along with drug, escape, weapons and fleeing charges, The Minot Daily News reported . The charges carry a total maximum sentence of nearly 60 years in jail.

Authorities say Marion resisted arrest after a vehicle pursuit ended. They say Marion reached for Deputy Keith Benning's gun and tried to point it toward the officer, saying "he could not go back to jail." The gun allegedly discharged twice during the scuffle.

Benning testified that Marion had a semiautomatic gun on his dashboard and tried to reach for it several times. Benning said he used pepper spray and a Taser on Marion after he refused to comply.

Benning said he pursued Marion until he slowed him down.

Benning wasn't shot, but did suffer multiple injuries from his fight with Marion, including three broken ribs. He was also struck over his eye with brass knuckles.

Benning said he believes Marion was high on meth. Marion had four plastic bags with 15 grams of methamphetamine portioned for sale. Marion also had nearly 30 empty plastic bags.


Information from: Minot Daily News,