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Judge rejects St. Paul driver's request for acquittal

  • Article by: JOY POWELL
  • Star Tribune
  • November 7, 2012 - 11:49 PM

The negligence of a driver who ran over and killed a teen near Harding High School in July began when the man got in his vehicle that day despite a disabling condition, the judge in the case said Wednesday.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North rejected a defense motion to acquit Carlos Viveros-Colorado, on trial for criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Clarisse Grime, 16, and criminal vehicular operation in connection with her injured boyfriend, Eduardo Vazquez-Torres, 17.

Viveros-Colorado waived his right to a jury trial, and the judge is to render a verdict next Wednesday.

Van de North said there was enough evidence for him to decide whether Viveros-Colorado, 51, of St. Paul, was grossly negligent, which is the conduct required for the criminal vehicular charges.

"He was aware of a pre-existing, intermittently disabling condition with respect to driving," Van de North said.

He added that Viveros-Colorado testified that he "was driving out of necessity because of his work and hoped he could get home."

Defense attorney Alberto Miera argued that the state didn't prove gross negligence and suggested that the judge consider a lesser charge.

Viveros-Colorado's sport-utility vehicle hit the couple as they sat waiting for a bus July 5 in grass along E. 3rd Street after summer school.

Viveros-Colorado testified that in the months leading up to the accident, numbness would come and go in his legs and left arm, and that he would rub his legs for 15 minutes before he could use them.

He said his right leg went numb and his foot "fell" on his accelerator when he tried to brake that day.

Van de North said that negligence, and perhaps gross negligence, likely occurred on a continuum beginning when Viveros-Colorado got into his vehicle near Hwy. 61 and 70th Street in St. Paul Park to drive home.

He had fallen ill while working an early morning shift at a bakery, and Van de North said the numbness apparently returned at the top of a hill on E. 3rd Street near the school.

"At no time did he take any corrective action to what he told others was a prior condition that paralyzed part of his body for as long as 15 minutes," the judge said.

Van de North noted testimony that the SUV swerved into the oncoming lane three or four times. "Why didn't he pull over to the side of the road?" the judge asked.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Lamin said that the Ford Expedition was a weapon in Viveros-Colorado's hands. The SUV was on the wrong side of the street and speeding when he ran over a curb, fire hydrant, another curb and a sign before striking Grime, the prosector said.

Vazquez-Torres was injured jumping out of the way.

Lamin said Viveros-Colorado offered no medical evidence to support his claims of numb legs. She said he couldn't recall details and kept changing his story.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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