A picture of Roger Tetu with his great-granddaughter Jessica. Tetu was killed in a hit-and-run not far from his home.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Gregory Larsin

Ramsey County Sheriff, Dml -

St. Paul hit-and-run driver sentenced

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE
  • Star Tribune
  • November 4, 2011 - 10:02 PM

When their paths crossed on St. Paul's East Side in July, Roger Tetu, 78, was a "man of honor" beloved by his Dayton's Bluff community, while Gregory J. Larsin, 21, was a felon whose life was "out of control," a judge said Thursday.

Larsin, driving with a suspended license, passed cars that were waiting for Tetu to cross Earl Street on July 26, and struck and killed him.

For three days, Larsin was on the run, trying to persuade a woman from whom he bought the car to report it stolen. But eventually he surrendered to police. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 7 1/3 years in prison for one count of criminal vehicular homicide.

"You are and continue to be a danger to the community," Ramsey County District Judge Robyn Millenacker said.

Tetu, in contrast, was an iconic patriarch, "a pillar of the community," said prosecutor Margaret Galvin.

She read to the court a victim impact statement written by a daughter, Nancy Tetu, who gave up trying to read it herself after she shook with emotion.

For 56 years, Roger Tetu lived in a house near where he died. Even in his late 70s, his daughter wrote, he shoveled snow for his neighbors, never complaining. He was crossing the street to pick up litter when he was hit and killed, friends and family said.

Nancy Tetu wrote that her parents had their hands full raising eight teenagers. But even when she was disciplined, she wrote, she had the pleasure of working alongside her father laying brick or working on cars. She valued their conversations, she wrote.

She said Larsin should get a year in prison for each of Tetu's children and for each of his 18 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

As Galvin read the statement, Larsin stood watching with arms crossed at the wrist. When she finished, he wiped his eyes with his jail uniform.

He told Millenacker he contemplated suicide in July before his sister talked him out of it. Then he turned himself in, he said.

He also apologized to Tetu's family.

Millenacker said Larsin has a "significant criminal history." She noted that the hit-and-run death occurred just five weeks after he left prison after serving time for third-degree burglary. She found his version of events lacking credibility.

Larsin had deprived Dayton's Bluff of an "exemplary community member," the judge said.

Now, she added, he ought to look to Tetu as an example of how to live.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041

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