Man to get four years in 2004 vehicular homicide case

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2009 - 10:52 PM

Drunken driver runs out of second chances. Judge will send man to prison for four years on Monday.

Jason Reese ran out of second chances Monday in a five-year-old case in which he killed an off-duty Scott County sheriff's deputy while driving drunk.

Hennepin County District Judge Warren Sagstuen gave Reese, formerly of Albertville, one week out of jail to get his affairs in order before he goes to prison for four years. Sagstuen is prepared to sentence Reese at 8:30 a.m. Monday after he hears from the victim's family.

Reese pleaded guilty in 2004 to vehicular homicide in the death of Jon Niemann of Prior Lake, a 37-year-old married father of two. Reese was sentenced to only eight months in jail because now-retired District Judge Diana Eagon said he appeared to be a "low risk to reoffend."

But last year, Reese violated his probation when he was found to be growing marijuana at his home in Nebraska. He was convicted of fourth-degree felony possession of marijuana and served seven months there. The violation triggered the longer sentence in Minnesota.

Reese stood with his lawyer and didn't say anything at Monday's brief hearing. The four-year sentence is expected to be imposed on Monday.

On Dec. 30, 2003, Reese, who was then 22, weaved in and out of traffic on Hwy. 494 near Plymouth before losing control of his car and smashing into oncoming vehicles. Witnesses said his car flipped into the median before crashing into Niemann's pickup truck. Within two hours of the crash, his blood-alcohol level was 0.13 percent. At the time, the legal limit was 0.10 percent.

Niemann's widow, Laurie Niemann-Pederson, also gave Reese a chance to help himself. She cut him a break on a $1 million civil judgment won by the family. If Reese graduated from an institution of higher learning, participated in drunken-driving panels and hit other benchmarks, he could lower the settlement by 90 percent.

ROCHELLE OLSON

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