A teenager who took his new car on a thrill ride and crashed on an interstate frontage road in Burnsville, killing two passengers and injuring two others, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Dakota County Juvenile Court to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
The court will have jurisdiction over Joshua L. Decoteau, now 18, until he turns 21, and an adult prison sentence will be waiting if he gets into any more trouble. He will be sentenced Sept. 23.
Decoteau, of Burnsville, had received his driver’s license less than six months and had had the 1992 Toyota Camry for just five days before the crash on Aug. 21, 2012. He was violating the state law that allows juveniles to have only one passenger under age 20, the State Patrol said at the time of the accident.
He was driving nearly 100 miles per hour and swerving from side to side when he veered off Buck Hill Road, went through a security fence and rolled down a grassy embankment onto the shoulder of Interstate 35.
Frederick J. Alexander, 16, of Burnsville, and Alesha K. Roehl, 17, of Northfield, were killed in the crash. A 16-year-old boy from Lakeville and a 17-year-old boy from Burnsville were injured. Decoteau also was slightly hurt.
When Decoteau was charged in June, Roehl’s family said they had sympathy for the boy.
“No matter how he gets punished, it won’t bring our kids back,” Alesha Roehl’s grandmother, Cindy Roehl, said. “He probably has the worst end of the deal. He has to live with this the rest of his life.”
Decoteau could be sentenced to spend time in a juvenile detention facility, do community work service, educational or community speaking and attend MADD panels. If he doesn’t comply with any or all of the conditions, he could face at least four years in prison, the typical sentence for criminal vehicular homicide.