Driver sentenced for leaving fatal Apple Valley accident scene

  • Updated: January 8, 2013 - 8:08 PM

Eric James Hunter will serve 60 days in jail, 30 days of work service and three years of probation for leaving the scene of a 2009 accident that killed Joanie LeVasseur of Apple Valley.

Hunter, 44, of Rosemount, pleaded guilty in October in Dakota County District Court to a felony charge of failure to notify police of a personal injury accident. His plea came the day he was to stand trial a second time; his first trial in 2010 ended in a hung jury.

LeVasseur, 26, who was deaf, was hit by Hunter's vehicle as she ran across Cedar Avenue S. at 153rd Street in Apple Valley against a red light in the dark. Because of that, Hunter could only be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, not the more serious charge of criminal vehicular homicide, which carries a much stiffer sentence.

Hunter claimed at his first trial that he didn't know he had hit a person until days after the accident, even though LeVasseur's head had broken through the windshield of his car. The jury could not reach a verdict and Judge David Knutson declared a mistrial.

LeVasseur's stepfather and cousin read victim-impact statements at Hunter's sentencing hearing. Another 20 or so letters were given to the judge.

Knutson gave Hunter credit for one day in jail and ordered him to pay restitution, undergo random testing for drug and alcohol use and submit a DNA sample, among other conditions. He faces up to 13 months in prison if he violates his probation.

PAT PHEIFER

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