West St. Paul man hit the gas after friend reached into pickup to take his keys.
Jason Lee Schultz doesn’t always know how to articulate his feelings and emotions, his attorney said in court Wednesday. But the 27-year-old West St. Paul man is remorseful for causing myriad injuries to a former friend who tried to stop him from driving drunk.
Schultz pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of criminal vehicular operation that resulted in substantial bodily harm to Kyle Kissinger. After listening to prosecutor Tricia Loehr read a statement from the victim, Dakota County District Judge Shawn Moynihan sentenced Schultz to a year in jail and a stayed prison sentence of almost two years. He will be on probation for up to five years.
The incident happened in January 2012 outside the Commercial Club bar in West St. Paul. Schultz was stumbling drunk when several people, including Kissinger, tried to stop him from driving the three blocks to his home. Court documents said a witness told police that they took Schultz’s keys, but he became angry, started pushing and shoving and managed to get in his pickup truck.
Kissinger reached in and tried to take the keys out of the ignition, but Schultz stepped on the gas and squealed out of the parking lot, dragging Kissinger with him. Schultz braked suddenly, throwing Kissinger into the side of the truck but not dislodging him. Police found the victim, semiconscious, about two blocks from the bar on S. Robert Street.
Schultz was arrested at his home and, hours after the incident, had a blood alcohol content of 0.22. It’s illegal to drive at 0.08 or higher.
Kissinger, who was in court Wednesday, suffered a traumatic brain injury, brain bleeding and swelling, fractured vertebrae, a punctured lung and various other injuries to his face, head and legs. His victim-impact statement said he was angry and frustrated and “never wants this sort of thing to happen to anyone ever again.”
Loehr told the judge that the probation official who wrote a pre-sentence investigation report said that Schultz “still doesn’t quite comprehend that he has injured someone else” and “still doesn’t seem willing to make the changes necessary so public safety is protected.”
Loehr said he “doesn’t believe he has a problem with alcohol” and apparently “feels it is his right to drive drunk.”
Schultz had one previous drunken-driving conviction, in 2010. Drunken-driving charges in the recent case were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Defense attorney Murad Mohammad told the judge that Schultz “has a hard time talking about his emotions” but “nobody felt worse about what happened to this young man than Mr. Schultz.”
When it was his turn to talk, Schultz said, “I’m sorry for my actions and what I did. The alcohol had clouded my judgment. Whatever you see as fair, judge, I’ll take it.”
The judge said Schultz can enroll in the Dakota County Safe Streets program, which includes 45 days of house arrest, after he has served 195 days in jail. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim, attend a victim-impact panel, not use any alcohol or drugs and submit to random testing.
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284