A teenager has admitted to driving his newly acquired car nearly 100 miles per hour in a swerving thrill ride that pitched two of his four teen passengers to their deaths along an interstate frontage road in Burnsville.
Joshua L. Decoteau, 18, of Burnsville, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Dakota County Juvenile Court to two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide involving gross negligence, one felony count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm and one gross-misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation.
Decoteau was 17 at the time of the Aug. 21, 2012, crash that killed Frederick J. Alexander, 16, of Burnsville, and Alesha K. Roehl, 17, of rural Northfield. The case was prosecuted under the state’s extended juvenile jurisdiction statute, which gives the juvenile court jurisdiction over Decoteau until he turns 21.
Sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 23, could include various conditions set by the court, such as detention in a juvenile facility and community service. If he does not comply, he could receive the full adult sentence, typically four years for criminal vehicular homicide.
“We are pleased that the driver accepted responsibility for his dangerous behavior,” said County Attorney James Backstrom.
Two passengers survived their injuries, Jonathan L. Thomas, of Lakeville, and Rey Chacon, of Burnsville. Decoteau was slightly injured. Decoteau and Thomas were wearing their seat belts. Chacon, Alexander and Roehl were not.
Decoteau’s 1992 Toyota Camry veered off Buck Hill Road, left a half-block of skid marks, went through a security fence and rolled down a grassy embankment onto the shoulder of Interstate 35.
Decoteau had received his license less than six months before the crash, which meant he was not supposed to have more than one passenger under age 20.
Backstrom said Decoteau had been driving the car for just five days before the crash.