No more than a year in jail will be the sentence for a northern Minnesota man with a history of drunken driving who rolled his car on a dark highway, got a lift to a nearby McDonald’s and left one of his buddies along the road to die without calling 911.
Tomas C. Cuellar, 41, of Grand Rapids, pleaded guilty last week in Itasca County District Court in connection with the March 11, 2017, crash on Hwy. 169 about 6 miles north of Hill City that killed Michael J. Washburn, of Hill City.
Cuellar’s guilty plea to criminal vehicular homicide calls for 10 years’ probation, a stayed prison term of 4¾ years and a maximum of one year in jail. County Attorney John Muhar said the defense will have the opportunity to argue for less jail time during sentencing on Dec. 3.
Muhar said his office agreed to no prison time because of a “great number of variables” that he declined to reveal.
The plea agreement notes that Cuellar accepted responsibility for the crash and expressed sympathy for Washburn’s survivors.
Cuellar arranged a ride from the crash scene to a McDonald’s in Grand Rapids before law enforcement arrived, according to the criminal complaint. Police officers caught up with a bloodied Cuellar in the restaurant.
Cuellar and another passenger were hospitalized. Cuellar’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.204 percent, more than 2½ times legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
His criminal history includes three other convictions for drunken driving.