Negligent homicide defendant appears in court

James Bynaum Jr.

The defendant in a negligent homicide case made his initial appearance Monday, Dec. 2 in Richland County District Court.

James Earl Bynaum, Jr., 61, has been charged with one count of negligent homicide with an adult victim, a class C felony. Bynaum, Wahpeton, appeared in a wheelchair before Judge Bradley Cruff. Saying he moved to Wahpeton just over a month ago, Bynaum said he does not work due to disability.

“I came up here to start a new life,” Bynaum said in court.

Bynaum is accused of negligently causing the death of another human being, namely his nephew, Oscar Charles Bynaum, 42. The incident was investigated by the Wahpeton Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Office and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 29, court documents state, James and Oscar Bynaum allegedly got into an argument at their residence, an apartment in the 700 block of Sixth Street South, Wahpeton.

“Oscar Bynaum was punching holes in the wall and eventually the defendant and Oscar Bynaum were physically fighting,” documents continue. “The defendant put Oscar Bynaum in a chokehold and Oscar Bynaum’s body went limp.”

James Bynaum then allegedly left the apartment, with no one checking on Oscar Bynaum until the afternoon. Wahpeton police officers responded at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 to a report of an unattended death, the department stated.

Oscar Bynaum was found deceased in a bedroom, according to the police department. James Bynaum was present at the apartment when officers arrived. He was arrested when officers developed probable cause to believe the death occurred as a result of homicidal violence.

“The medical examiner’s preliminary finding is that Oscar Bynaum’s death is consistent with being strangled,” court documents continue.

James Bynaum requested court-appointed council. Richland County Assistant State’s Attorney Casey Moen represents the state of North Dakota.

Judge Cruff set a bond of $10,000 cash or surety for James Bynaum.

The prosecution had requested a $500,000 cash bond, with the condition that Bynaum have no contact with any witnesses.

Moen suggested Bynaum may be a flight risk, naming several charges he had faced in Texas. They include assault, causing bodily injury to a family member, burglary of a vehicle, evading arrest and failing to identify a fugitive from justice. It is unsure if he was convicted of any of those charges.

Oscar Bynaum had been a resident of Wahpeton for approximately 4-5 years, according to James Bynaum. His nephew was going to assist him in starting his new life, the elder Bynaum said. James Bynaum does have additional family in the Twin Towns Area, he said.

The maximum sentence for a class C felony is five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.

A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled. Bynaum is currently confined in the Richland County Jail.

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