A minister and former college professor has been sentenced to prison for driving drunk while on the wrong side of a Brooklyn Park highway and killing a motorist in a head-on crash as she traveled to work as a Minneapolis 911 dispatcher.
Richard J.M. Shaka, 73, of Blaine, was sentenced Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court to a four-year term for causing the collision with Jenna L. Bixby, 30, on Hwy. 252 the night of Feb. 17, 2018.
With credit for time spent in jail upon arrest, Shaka will serve the first 2⅔ years in prison and the balance on supervised release.
“This is the darkest moment of my life,” Shaka said to Judge Kathryn Quaintance, after standing from a wheelchair and walking slowly with a cane to the podium. Shaka suffered serious injuries from the collision.
Shaka was driving his SUV north on southbound Hwy. 252 just north of Brookdale Drive when he hit Bixby’s car. Tests revealed his blood-alcohol content soon after the wreck was 0.168%, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
Bixby’s husband, Daniel Bixby, was listening to the emergency dispatch audio that first reported the crash, said Andrew Williams, who heads two Twin Cities scanner monitoring groups online. Daniel Bixby heard an officer on the scene report that his wife was “not breathing, unresponsive.”
Two hours later, State Patrol troopers went to the Bixby home in the northern Anoka County community of Nowthen with the news.
Jenna Bixby had been a Minneapolis dispatcher for roughly 3 ½ years. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and emergency communications director Heather Hunt released statements of condolence and praised Bixby for her dedication to protecting the public.
Shaka taught at North Central University in Minneapolis in the Bible and Theology Department from 1996 until retiring in 2011. He founded All Nations Christian Assembly in northeast Minneapolis and was a senior pastor there for more than 17 years, as was his wife.
He also founded a Twin Cities nonprofit that builds orphanages and youth centers in his native Sierra Leone.