Cokato Man Charged With CVH and Injury After Friday Highway 12 crash

Authorities are seeking criminal vehicular homicide and injury charges against a 21-year-old Cokato, Minnesota, man after a Friday night traffic accident near Willmar. The felony DWI charges were formally filed Monday in Kandiyohi County. The man is scheduled to appear Tuesday morning on three counts of felony CVH, one count of criminal vehicular injury, and a misdemeanor charge for open bottle in a motor vehicle.

Authorities say that the Cokato man crossed the center line in his pickup truck while traveling east on Highway 12 near Willmar Friday evening. The Minnesota State Patrol claims that the man’s pickup slammed head-on into a minivan driven by a 68-year-old Atwater, Minnesota woman. She was returning home with family members from Eden Prairie. The family had been out to see a movie, according to the highway patrol.

The crash reportedly caused the minivan to drive into the ditch and catch fire. The driver, her 40-year-old daughter in law, and the passenger’s child were killed in the crash, according to the state patrol. A 5-year-old boy, the passenger’s son, survived the crash, and is expected to be released from the hospital in a few days.

Police say that they found a liquor bottle broken in the road near the scene of the accident. Law enforcement says that a bottle of hard liquor was seized from behind the driver’s seat of the Cokato man’s pickup truck. Authorities also say that a cooler was in the cargo area of the pickup. The cooler reportedly contained alcoholic beverages.

Law enforcement claims that the Cokato man said after the accident that he had been drinking beer at home that night. Authorities claim the man admitted to consuming about five beers earlier in the evening. Officers reportedly obtained a preliminary breath test from the man, which authorities say registered a 0.07 percent alcohol level. It is unclear from media reports whether law enforcement obtained any other evidentiary alcohol test after the Friday night accident.

The Cokato, Minnesota, man is currently being held in the Kandiyohi County Jail pending Tuesday’s court appearance on the serious criminal charges.


  • KSTP-TV Eyewitness News, “Cokato Man Charged in Triple Fatal Crash,” Leslie Rolander, Aug. 20, 2012
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Cokato man charged in crash that killed 3 from Eden Prairie family,” Jenna Ross, Aug. 20, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

People facing criminal charges in Minnesota often ask, “Can you defend yourself in court?” You can represent yourself in court when charged with a crime. Self-representation, however, is not typically in the accused's best interests, even if courts allow it.
Parents whose children have been arrested or accused of committing a heinous crime might wonder, “Can a minor be charged with a felony?” A minor aged 14 years or older but below 18 years may face felony charges in Minnesota.
People accused of or under investigation for assault might ask, “What are the charges for assault?” Minnesota has five levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is the most serious offense, and a conviction often results in the most severe penalties, like long prison time and hefty fines.