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A Floyd man charged in the July 2011 bicycle traffic death of a hobo in the area for the National Hobo Convention in Britt was sentenced Tuesday to a prison term of not to exceed five years.

Travis Jack Thomas, 40, pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, a Class D felony, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a serious misdemeanor, in the death of 60-year-old Randy “Railroad Randy” Nomeland of Minneapolis.

Thomas was eastbound on U.S. Highway 18 near Britt on July 29, 2011, when he hit Nomeland who was eastbound on a bicycle.

Judge Christopher Foy sentenced Thomas in Hancock County District Court in Garner on Tuesday.

Through tears, Thomas offered his deepest sympathies to Nomeland’s family and friends.

He said he hoped to remain a productive member of society.

“I know that God has forgiven me for my sins,” Thomas said.

About 60 people, supporters of Thomas, packed the courtroom. No one spoke on his behalf but many sent letters to the judge asking that he spare Thomas prison time.

The four people who spoke during the victim impact phase of the sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon described Nomeland as an artist, storyteller and a voracious reader.

“So many people have been hurt by this mess,” said Nomeland’s younger brother Tim.

He said Nomeland was a role model on how to treat people.

Randy Nomeland rode the rails from 1981 to 2001 then started riding his bicycle, according to his brother.

He was a fixture at the Walker Library in Minneapolis.

Fellow hobo Minneapolis Jewell talked about what Nomeland’s death meant to the hobo community.

“We are deprived of a lovely spirit, a lovable nature who loved riding his bike and interacting with all kinds of people,” she said.

“We love him and miss him.”

As part of a plea agreement, the defense agreed to not seek probation or a deferred judgment but a judge is not bound by a plea agreement.

“You can’t punish him any more today than he has punished himself,” said Thomas’ attorney Russell Schroeder.

“He can’t fix what happened a year ago. There’s no way any sentence you give him can change that. He only asks that you do a sentence that is just for the victim but also just for him.”

As part of his sentence, Thomas was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the victim’s family. He must also pay $6,130 to the Crime Victim’s Assistance Program for funds which were provided to the victim’s family for expenses they incurred.

On the involuntary manslaughter charge, a $750 fine was suspended. On the OWI charge, Thomas was sentenced to two days in jail and a $1,250 fine. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Thomas was not immediately taken into custody. He was given until noon Monday, July 23, to report to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. Thomas will then be transported to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.

He has 30 days in which to appeal his sentence.


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