A motorist smoked a blunt before he fatally rear-ended a motorcyclist who was stopped in a line of traffic in St. Paul, according to charges filed Tuesday.
Eric Ellington, 36, of St. Paul was charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the multivehicle crash on May 1 on Maryland Avenue that sent Kevin W. Patterson flying off his motorcycle.
Patterson, 42, of Maplewood suffered severe head injuries, was taken to Regions Hospital and died there on May 15.
Ellington was arrested at the scene, later released from custody and then charged by summons. A message was left with him seeking his response to the allegations.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police arrived at Maryland Avenue and Edgerton Street about 6:30 p.m. and saw Ellington's small SUV atop the motorcycle. Patterson was down in the street and unconscious.
Ellington told officers he failed to see the vehicles stopped in front of him on eastbound Maryland and hit the motorcycle from behind. The collision led to a chain-reaction crash involving the three vehicles stopped ahead of the motorcycle.
A motorist showed police his dashcam video, which revealed that the SUV driver hit the motorcycle without applying the brakes.
Ellington told police he had smoked a blunt that day. A police drug recognition expert came to the scene and noted that Ellington exhibited physical signs of marijuana use including reddened eyes, white film on his tongue and corners of his mouth, and eyelid and leg tremors.
A blood test carried out by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed marijuana use.
A police search of Ellington's SUV turned up two jars containing apparent marijuana residue from behind the front passenger seat and two jars from the rear of the vehicle containing more than 1½ ounces of marijuana in total.
Police also recovered an open bottle of cognac from behind the driver's seat.
Court records show that Ellington has been convicted at least four times for driving with a suspended license.