People accused of crimes in Minnesota have the right to take the evidence to trial and place the facts in the hands of a jury. At times, some people choose to accept a plea agreement and waive their right to a jury trial. In other cases, however, a person may choose to waive their right to a jury and still have a trial.
That is what one woman chose recently in Dakota County. The woman was accused of a number of serious felony charges, including three counts of criminal vehicular homicide. In addition, the woman was charged with one felony count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm, one count of gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation and two other misdemeanors. The woman waived her right to a jury and asked for a judge to hear the evidence at trial.
Prosecutors claimed the woman was involved in a 2008 crash on Highway 52 in Inver Grove Heights. Three people died in the accident and two others were injured, according to court records. Prosecutors wrote in the criminal complaint that a witness said the woman and a passenger may have been passing something like a camera back and forth on the highway.
The witness reportedly told police that the car started to swerve and the passenger grabbed the wheel, jerking the car back into its proper lane. The witness then said the car swerved again, ran through the median and into oncoming traffic, according to the complaint.
Police apparently inspected the car and they claim the car was free from mechanical defects. Police say there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol related to the accident. After the evidence was presented to the judge, the woman was acquitted of six of the counts against her. The judge found the St. Paul woman guilty of a sole count of misdemeanor careless driving, based upon the evidence presented at trial. She faces a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. She is scheduled to appear for sentencing later this month in Hastings.
Source: Rosemount Patch, “Former Rosemount Woman Acquitted of 6 Charges in Crash that Killed 3,” Betsy Sundquist, Oct. 5, 2011