A 57-year-old man drank heavily at a St. Paul bar before he drove off and killed a pedestrian nearby, then avoided arrest until police caught up with him days later, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
Robert W. Kinney of Maplewood was charged in Ramsey County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the death Jan. 22 of John D. Benjamin, 68.
Benjamin was hit near his home while walking about 8:35 p.m. that day and was then left facedown to die against a snowbank along N. McKnight Road near the intersection with Margaret Street, the complaint said.
Kinney appeared in court Friday and posted bond. Court records do not list an attorney for him.
According to the complaint:
Kinney drank eight double shots of vodka over a three-hour stretch in the 5-8 Tavern & Grill, where a tipster described him to police as a regular.
He left the bar at 8:23 p.m., according to the business' surveillance video.
Police were alerted at 8:37 p.m. to Benjamin being down in the snow a little more than a block away.
Near Benjamin's body were pieces of a vehicle including a passenger-side mirror, reflector and lights.
An auto body specialist determined the vehicle was a Chevy Malibu, platinum gray in color and dating from 1997 to 2003.
With days passing without locating a suspect, police were prevented from administering a blood alcohol test in a timely enough manner to determine whether the driver was intoxicated.
The anonymous tipster said the driver was named Bob and a frequent customer at the bar. The tipster said Bob had a car that matches the description released by police through social media and news outlets.
Officers went to Kinney's home and found him in the garage sitting in his 2005 Chevy Classic, a model that closely resembles a Malibu. He told the officers he was on his way to an auto parts supplier.
The officers arrested Kinney and asked him whether he knew anything about the hit-and-run crash.
"I know there's damage on my car, but what was the result of the damage?" the complaint quoted him as saying.
When questioned further, Kinney ended the interview and asked for an attorney.
Kinney's criminal history includes convictions in Minnesota for drunken driving in 1996 and 2004.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482