Attorney says his client facing criminal vehicular homicide charge in Maple Grove crash suffers from cognitive disorders.
A Maple Grove woman charged with criminal vehicular homicide recalls nothing of the crash that killed a recently widowed mother who was out walking with her sister when she was struck, the woman's defense attorney said Tuesday.
Linda L. Hamm's attorney, Frederick Goetz, said during his client's initial court appearance that she suffers from dementia and significant cognitive disorders from a "long downhill slide" due to a series of aneurysms.
Hamm, 61, was charged Monday in Hennepin County District Court with hitting Ann L. Blake, 54, of Andover, who was standing with her sister on a median curb at a Maple Grove intersection Jan 31.
A preliminary breath test shortly after the crash measured Hamm's blood-alcohol level at 0.169 percent. A subsequent measure by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension showed a level of 0.18 within two hours of the crash at Elm Creek Boulevard and Hemlock Lane, police said. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.
Officers found an open vodka bottle in the defendant's vehicle, police added.
State driving records show that Hamm, an Osseo school district employee who works in early childhood education, has only a 1998 speeding ticket.
Goetz filed a motion questioning Hamm's ability to stand trial. In response, the court ordered a mental evaluation and scheduled her next court appearance for April 13.
Hamm stood next to Goetz before Judge Leslie Metzen and visibly shook while her husband, Kevin, helped her to the podium.
After the hearing, Goetz said that Hamm remembers nothing about the crash, but he does not dispute the facts in the complaint.
"She knows now that someone died as a result of that, and is extremely sad and remorseful that it happened," Goetz said.
He said that her family brought her in for neuropsychological testing nearly two weeks before the crash and the results revealed the cognitive disorders. A second test confirmed dementia and "raises questions about her competence," Goetz said.
Hamm has been an Osseo district employee since 1979, most recently in a part-time position providing administrative support and assisting early childhood teachers, but not in the classroom, said district spokeswoman Barbara Olson. She is now taking a leave of absence, Olson said.
Blake's sister told police that the two were waiting for the "walk" signal in order to cross Hemlock Lane when Hamm's sport-utility vehicle struck Blake from behind, according to the complaint.
The sister added that they never saw or heard the vehicle before the crash.
Hamm continued east and crossed all lanes of southbound traffic on Hemlock before crossing over the median and striking a northbound vehicle that was waiting for the light to change, pushing it into another vehicle, police said.
A police officer called to the area on a report of a motorist speeding and driving erratically saw the entire scene play out. The officer found that Hamm "had watery, glassy eyes and was confused," according to the complaint.
Blake was shopping and getting some exercise with her sister when she was hit. Her husband, Dan, died late last year after a 10-month battle with cancer, leaving her to care for her twins, one of whom is autistic.