An unlicensed hit-and-run motorcyclist will serve roughly six years in prison for racing down a rural Scott County road, swerving into the wrong lane and fatally striking a Lakeville woman as she stood by the side of the road.
Matthew K. Hartley, 34, of Farmington, was sentenced Tuesday in Scott County District Court to a 10-year term for killing Mollie Mahowald, 24, an Army specialist, just after bar closing on Sept. 25.
The fatal crash added to Hartley’s more than two dozen traffic violations, including a drunken-driving conviction two months before hitting Mahowald and another charge pending at the time. His motorcycle operator’s permit had expired in June 2016, and he also had his standard driver’s license revoked.
With credit for time jailed since his arrest, Hartley will be incarcerated for slightly more than six years and then serve the balance of his sentence on supervised release. Jurors convicted Hartley in February on three counts of criminal vehicular homicide and acquitted him on a fourth count alleging that he was drunk when he killed Mahowald.
Mahowald was run over about 2:25 a.m. in the 9700 block of Main Street, a few miles from her home. She spent the day at a barbecue in downtown Elko New Market with friends, then headed to a nearby bar. She called a sister for a ride. The sister arrived minutes later to find a law enforcement officer attempting to resuscitate Mahowald.
Authorities located Hartley 13 hours later. His motorcycle was tucked under a canoe behind some buses.
A witness told police that Hartley appeared “hammered” and had been hanging out on the road and doing burnouts earlier that evening, but his defense pointed out that authorities failed to conduct a blood-alcohol test.
Mahowald, a New Prague High School graduate, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was studying to be a veterinary technician.
“Our family has sent Mollie to war two times over several years,” her father wrote in an emotional statement pleading for a tough penalty. “She then comes home to be killed by a drunken motorcyclist with a rap sheet that should have kept him off the street.”
Peter Mahowald continued: “When the courts do not punish repeat offenders — and I believe in his case they have not — they reoffend again and again and again. Now the reoffender has taken a life. When does this stop? Who do we blame?”