A judge on Tuesday rejected a Richfield woman’s argument that she was mentally ill when she drove out of control and struck two Bloomington Public Works employees, killing one and leaving the other with serious injuries.
Marie Jessica Hall, 25, was convicted in September of third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide and operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner for the January incident. According to criminal charges, she was distraught, swigged vodka and drove about 100 mph when she crashed into Tyler Lenort, 38, and his co-worker, who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Lenort had just gotten back in his truck after the two were removing snow from a sidewalk when Hall crashed into them.
Hall argued that she was suffering from mental illness at the time of the crash. District Judge Paul Scoggin said it was a “close call,” according to the Hennepin County attorney’s office. Hall has been hospitalized six times since 2011 because of mental illness. But Scoggin said her actions before the crash indicate she knew right from wrong even as she intended to kill herself, the county attorney’s office said.
Among the reasons he cited for his ruling, Scoggin said Hall slowed at intersections to make sure there was no cross traffic before running red lights. And though she stole two bottles of vodka from Sam’s Club, she threw cash into the air before leaving, “indicating she knew it was wrong to just steal the liquor,” the county attorney’s office said.
As Hall drove nearly 100 mph on city streets, the county attorney’s office said she managed to pass several cars going the same direction but at half her speed, indicating she did not want to harm people when she knew a vehicle was occupied.
Hall did not “slam into another moving vehicle, she avoided them, choosing, at high speeds, to collide with the back end of this heavy truck,” Scoggin wrote.
She will be sentenced on Feb. 2.