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SIOUX CITY -- Evidence clearly showed that Dayton Provost led police on a high-speed chase from Moville to Sergeant Bluff.

Yet, because Iowa law requires proof that the officers were both wearing uniforms and driving marked police vehicles during the chase, District Judge Tod Deck said he had to acquit Provost of charges that should have resulted in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

"I certainly believe you should be in prison for what you did do and what the state has proven you did do," Deck told Provost Friday after announcing his not guilty verdict on charges of eluding and third-offense operating while intoxicated.

What the state did not do during the one-day trial on May 30, Deck said, was show that any of the officers driving marked vehicles was wearing a uniform at the time of the pursuit. Evidence showed that a state patrolman who led the chase was in uniform, but he was driving an unmarked vehicle. Deck said he didn't know what the Iowa Legislature's intent was when it wrote the law requiring that both elements must be met to prove a charge of eluding, but he had no choice but to follow the law and acquit Provost.

Because of prior criminal convictions, Provost, 25, of Fort Dodge, had been charged in Woodbury County District Court as a habitual offender, an enhancement that carries a 15-year prison sentence. He faced an additional five years for OWI.

Deck ruled that evidence clearly showed that on April 19 Provost led officers on a chase that reached speeds in excess of 100 mph on U.S. Highway 20 from Moville, through Sioux City and into Sergeant Bluff, where a state patrolman rammed Provost's car, forcing it off the road. Provost fled on foot and was located and arrested two hours later.

Deck said officers testified that they suspected Provost was intoxicated on drugs when they arrested him, but no physical specimen was collected for testing. With at least three hours between the chase and the investigation into whether Provost was intoxicated, Deck said it was hard to say that, if Provost were intoxicated, he had been at the time of the chase or if he had ingested any substances between the time of the chase and his arrest.

Provost had been in custody since his arrest and was released from the Woodbury County Jail after the verdict.

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