Year in jail for drunk speeder who killed friend on Dakota County highway

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2014 - 9:15 PM

28-year-old defendant was drunk and speeding in Dakota County wreck.

A 28-year-old with many traffic violations and other crimes on his record was sentenced to a year in jail for getting drunk, then ramming his speeding pickup truck into trees along a southern Dakota County highway, killing his friend sitting next to him.

Keri J. Gesme, of Hampton, pleaded guilty in December to criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Dennis P. Underwood, 27, of Cannon Falls, Minn., on the afternoon of Nov. 8, 2012.

Gesme’s sentence on Friday in Dakota County District Court includes 10 years’ probation and a $700 fine. A prison sentence of nearly five years was stayed for 10 years. He received credit for 116 days already served in jail and can serve his remaining 249 days on work release, if he can demonstrate that he is eligible.

In a statement announcing the sentence, County Attorney James Backstrom said, “We are pleased that the defendant accepted responsibility for his criminal behavior that took a life.”

Gesme’s blood alcohol content slightly more than two hours after the crash was 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota. One of his relatives said Gesme had been drinking since 9 a.m. that day.

When police arrived at the crash scene on Hwy. 50 just outside of New Trier, they found Gesme about 25 yards from the pickup and Underwood’s body near one of the trees that the pickup struck, indicating that neither had been wearing seat belts.

Gesme told the officers he only remembered not being the driver. DNA from blood at the scene, however, showed, that Underwood was in the passenger seat.

State Patrol investigators determined that Gesme was driving at 83 to 106 miles per hour when he crashed. A witness said he heard a truck pass his home, and it was accelerating rapidly and squealing its tires.

Gesme’s criminal history in Minnesota includes numerous convictions, including domestic abuse, assault and underage drinking. His many driving convictions range from no insurance to numerous seat belt violations to exhibition driving to speeding at 101 mph in a 55 zone.

 

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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