Anoka County road-rage defendant: She was victim

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN
  • Star Tribune
  • August 23, 2012 - 11:28 PM

Rebecca Treptow, accused of pointing a gun at another motorist during a road rage incident in February, testified in Anoka County District Court on Thursday that she was the victim in the case.

Treptow said she was driving home from a doctor's appointment with her young son on Hwy. 10 in Coon Rapids when a driver behind her switched lanes each time she made a change. Frightened because of past run-ins with a stalker, she said, she pulled off the highway to call police. The other driver, Nicole Hedblum, followed and then confronted her, Treptow testified.

She said that when she asked Hedblum why she was following her, Hedblum replied that it was because "you pointed a gun at me."

Hedblum testified on Wed-nesday that Treptow brandished a gun after Hedblum honked her horn. Police arrested Treptow after they found a handgun in her vehicle. She is charged with felony second-degree assault and terroristic threats and a misdemeanor dangerous weapon violation.

Jurors will begin deliberations on Friday and consider what attorneys on both sides highlighted during final arguments: Who has more credibility?

"If Nicole Hedblum lied, how did she know the defendant had a gun? What are the odds?" prosecutor Kurt Deile asked.

Treptow was the only witness called by defense attorney Seth Cobin. In his closing arguments, Cobin said that what was remarkable about the case was "all the things we don't have": no witnesses, no police pictures of the gun or any video from highway cameras or local businesses, he said.

"We don't have an impartial view," he said. "It comes down to the words of two people."

The two-day trial featured testimony from a few police officers, the playing of Hedblum's 911 call and scant physical evidence. The main witnesses were Treptow and Hedblum, each of whom was on the stand for more than an hour.

Hedblum's account started with what she considered a good deed: honking to alert Treptow when she saw her vehicle appearing to veer off the highway. At that point, she said, Treptow pulled into the lane to her right and pointed a gun. Not wanting her to get away with it, Hedblum said Thursday, she followed her, took down her license plate number and called police.

Treptow testified that when she exited Hwy. 10 in Anoka to get away from Hedblum, she was relieved to spot two police officers nearby. She flagged them but was surprised when they ended up arresting her for allegedly pointing a gun at Hedblum, she said.

Treptow didn't deny having a gun in her vehicle and said she has had a conceal-and-carry permit to carry a firearm since 2005. But with surgeries in February on both her arms and with her 3-year-old son in the backseat, she said there is no way she would point a gun at anybody.

If she was so scared that a stalker might be following her, Deile asked, why did she first try to call an Anoka detective she knew instead of 911? He also said Treptow must have had a good enough look to know the person in the other car wasn't the stalker.

The defense challenged several points, as well, such as how Hedblum wasn't able to describe Treptow's physical features or the color of the gun to police shortly after they took her statement. Cobin also asked why Hedblum didn't stop following Treptow once she had her license plate and called for help.

"If you believe somebody is crazy enough to point a gun at you, why would confront them?" he asked. "It doesn't make sense because it's not the truth."

Treptow's trial comes five years after her husband shot an undercover police officer in the leg after a heated argument in an apparent road rage case in Coon Rapids. Her husband ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm. The other driver was indicted in the case but the charge was later dismissed.

The jury in this week's trial did not hear about that incident.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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