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Sides prepare for vehicular homicide case

The case against Jacob Dale, 18, of Alexandria, who is charged with three counts of criminal vehicular homicide stemming from a fatal crash last May, is moving slowly ahead.

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Jacob Dale, chargedAt a contested omnibus hearing last Friday, Douglas County District Judge David Battey told Dale’s attorney and the Douglas County Attorney’s Office to each file written briefs and submit them to the court.

At issue is whether key evidence will be allowed in the case.

The defense has until January 13 to complete the briefs and the prosecution has until January 27.

After that, Battey will take the briefs under advisement and has up to 90 days to make a ruling.

Dale’s attorney, John Leunig, has filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing that Dale was not advised of his Miranda rights when he was questioned by a state trooper at the St. Cloud Hospital on the night of the May 25 crash that killed 19-year-old Landon Lien of Carlos.

Leunig is asking the judge to suppress Dale’s statements that night, as well as a blood-alcohol test that the trooper administered at the hospital. Leunig said that because of Dale’s young age and emotional condition, he could not validly give consent to the test. He said the trooper should have obtained a warrant.

Leunig also requested to suppress the results of a breathalyzer test and all of Dale’s medical records obtained by the State Patrol.

The felony counts against Dale, who has been released on bail, all involve alcohol — operating a vehicle with negligence while under the influence of alcohol, with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, and having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The crash happened at around 2 a.m. on Interstate 94, about six miles east of Alexandria.

At the time, it wasn’t clear who was driving but authorities have since determined that Dale was behind the wheel.

The vehicle sideswiped a semi-truck while trying to pass and rolled into the median near milepost 109, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Lien was found lying on the ground near the vehicle, unresponsive.

Dale, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital where he was hospitalized and later released.

According to the criminal complaint, Dale and Lien had gone to Sauk Centre for a graduation party and were headed back to Alexandria. Five witnesses who were at the party told investigators that Dale was in the driver’s seat when they left the party, according to the complaint. Dale initially told investigators that Lien was the driver.

When a state trooper questioned him in the hospital, he noticed a long abrasion down the left side of Dale’s neck, which is consistent with the mark that would have been left from a shoulder strap or seat belt if Dale had been in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

A blood alcohol test taken more than three and a half hours after the crash showed an alcohol concentration of 0.14, well over the legal limit of 0.08.

According to computerized information taken from the vehicle’s airbag equipment, the vehicle was traveling 81 miles per hour at the time of the crash, well over the speed limit of 70 miles per hour, according to the complaint.

Lien, the son of Gary and Sonja Lien, had a keen interest in history and enjoyed being a World War II re-enactor. He and two of his friends were featured in an Echo Press story in April 2011 for serving as extras in World War II battle scenes in the movie, Memorial Day.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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