Witnesses Say Mahtowa Rest Stop DWI Hit-and Run Looked Intentional

On June 19, a former Duluth man allegedly engaged in the hit-and-run death of Greg Blackburn, a Mahtowa rest stop janitor. Now, Gregory Allen Scherber, 55, is going to be evaluated for both mental illness and competency before his case proceeds.

It was Scherber’s attorney who made the request for a Rule 20 request to have Scherber evaluated, which could take up to a month to complete.

Scherber was charged with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and criminal vehicular homicide. Both offenses are felonies and even more serious charges could follow based on statements by witnesses that Scherber appeared to purposely run over Blackburn.

The prosecution is still getting discovery from the multiple agencies involved in the investigation, including possible drunken driving and the fact that the killing of Blackburn was intentional. The prosecution is waiting to see all of the witness statements, the reconstruction of the accident scene, photos, and the analysis from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension regarding the blood that was taken from Scherber after he was taken into custody following a police chase that lasted 25 miles. The chase ended with Scherber and his truck landing in a ditch.

The criminal case says that Scherber is said to live in Duluth, but he stated in court that he now lives in Minneapolis.

According to the criminal complaint, Minnesota State Patrol was advised of the hit-and-run at the rest area in Culkin, which is northbound on I-35 near Hatowa. It was not long after when a trooper who was in the vicinity saw a vehicle that matched the description of the one in the hit-and-run. That is when the officer chased the blue Ford pickup truck at speads nearing 100 mph in heavy traffic on I-35.

The officer attempted to pull the vehicle over, but the vehicle would not stop and fled toward Duluth. When a construction zone was entered near the St. Louis County border, the truck started passing traffic by driving on the shoulder, hitting barriers and cones in the process. The truck then exited the freeway on Boundary Avenue and drove through Proctor, hitting Highway 2 westbound. This is when other law enforcement agencies became involved in the chase, but had no success stopping the vehicle.

Another trooper was finally able to make contact and spun the truck out of control where it came to rest in a ditch. Afterward, officers were able to take Scherber into custody. The report states that he was yelling obscenities and was very agitated, saying the Native Mob Gang was after him and that the FBI had hung up on him when he had called them earlier in the day with complaints that this mob was following him.

In the meantime, emergency personnel were at the rest area where they confirmed that Blackburn was dead. Witnesses said that the pickup truck was at one end of an empty semitrailer parking lot and accelerated toward the other side where Blackburn was picking up trash.

Scherber has a past criminal record that includes DWI, disorderly conduct, theft, domestic assault, violation of a harassment order, and terroristic threats.

The prosecution requested his bail be set at $75,000. The judge set bail at $75,000 bond or $7,500 cash.

At his first court hearing, Scherber was very agitated and animated, asking to speak to the court. The bailiff then escorted him from the court.

 



St. Paul Boy Recovering after Alleged DWI-Related Accident

A woman who was allegedly drunk when behind the wheel of her vehicle that hit a 7-year-old boy has been arrested in relation to the hit-and-run case.

According to St. Paul Police, the accident happened on July 9 just before 8 p.m. at the Bedford and Payne intersection.

The young boy, Xavier Battle, was riding his bicycle when 39-year-old Kristina Jackson hit him with her vehicle and then fled the scene.

Laketa Buice, Battle’s mother, was watching out her window when she saw the vehicle hit her son. She said he was lifeless when she saw him on the ground.

Buice said she saw the driver get out of the SUV and look around. When she saw Buice, she got in her vehicle and sped off, according to Buice.

It was not long after that an officer was able to catch up with Jackson. She was then arrested and housed in the Ramsey County Jail on fleeing the scene of an accident and suspicion of DWI.

Police say that the fact Jackson allegedly fled the scene after the accident will mean more charges will be filed against her. Police always advise that individuals stay at the accident scene or the charges could be aggravated and that means more jail time if convicted.

Buice says she keeps reliving the moment when her son was hit by the SUV. She says she hears the sound of tires screeching and then seeing her son roll under the car. She said she is not sure she can let her children play outside anymore.

Battle is recovering at Gilette Children’s Hospital in fair condition. The large gash on his head required 40 stitches to close. He also has abrasions all over his body and bones broken in his back.

In addition to the DWI charge, Jackson could face one or more charges for fleeing the scene of an accident and criminal vehicular operation.



Woman Charged in Fatal Apple Valley Crash with .36 BAC

A Lakeville woman has been accused of drunken driving in a crash in Apple Valley on June 27 that killed a motorcyclist, according to the charges filed in Dakota County Court on July 1.

Leah Marie Colwell, 44, is charged with criminal vehicular homicide, fourth-degree DWI, driving after a canceled license inimical to public safety, and open bottle in connection with the accident that killed a 29-year-old.

According to the charges, Apple Valley and Lakeville police were called to the two-vehicle crash that involved a motorcycle at around 8:05 p.m. on July 27. The accident occurred near Harwell Avenue. When authorities arrived on the scene, the motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been heading west on 160th Street when Colwell’s Ford Taurus, which was heading east on 160th, turned northbound onto Harwell Avenue, cutting off the motorcycle.

The motorcycle T-boned the passenger side of the vehicle, killing him. A preliminary breath test revealed that Colwell’s blood alcohol concentration was .36. This is more than four times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota. Minnesota’s legal limit is .08. Colwell told police that she didn’t have a license, but said she didn’t know why it was taken from her, according to the complaint.

Also according to the complaint, she told the police that she was driving from her home to her friend’s house and did not see the motorcycle coming until they crashed. She told officers that she had been drinking at her house and had had four “Captain Cokes” before she left. Colwell also told officers that she thought she was okay to drive and did not want the passengers in her vehicle driving because they had consumed more alcohol than she had.

There were two passengers in the car with Colwell at the time of the accident and one of them stated they tried to warn her of the motorcycle before they collided, but it was too late. The complaint states that one of the passengers went into a panic after the crash and had taken a bottle of tequila and Captain Morgan out of the vehicle and threw them into a trash can at a nearby home. Authorities found both bottles and said the Captain Morgan bottle’s seal had been broken.

If Colwell is convicted of all charges, she could serve over 11 years in prison and pay around $25,000 in fines.



Minnesota Patrols Will be Combating Minnesota Traffic over July 4th Holiday

As Minnesotans head into the July 4th holiday week, they are moving toward one of the most deadly weeks on state roads. This is why authorities are urging drivers to stay sober and be safe.

As of June 28, 149 people had already died on Minnesota roads in 2013. This is up from the 138 who had died in crashes this time last year.

The latest fatality was that of a 29-year-old motorcyclist who was killed by a 44-year-old Lakeville woman with a blood alcohol concentration of .36.

As the July 4th week kicks off, the state Department of Public Safety has issued warnings to drivers that they should have a plan so they have a sober ride, adhere to traffic laws, be patient, and wear their seatbelts.

In the past five years, 29 people have died in traffic accidents over the 4th of July holiday. Nineteen of the deaths were related to alcohol, according to authorities. Authorities also stated that four of those deaths occurred in 2011 and 2010, seven in 2009, eight in 2008, and 2007 was a year that saw no deaths. A total of 94 people have been injured over the 4th of July and 23 of them were injured in alcohol-related crashes.

There will be an increase in patrols during the holiday, especially in the 13 deadliest counties in the state when it comes to drinking and driving. All of those counties are in the Twin Cities metro area.

There will also be increased patrols into the weekend for those celebrating late due to the holiday falling in the middle of the work week.

All in all, this is a historically deadly holiday because the weather is nice and more people celebrate. There is also a great deal of travel happening so that families can spend time together over the holiday.