Jurors on Friday convicted a motorcyclist of racing down a rural Scott County road, swerving into the wrong lane and fatally striking a Lakeville woman as she stood by the side of the road late at night.
Matthew K. Hartley, 34, of Farmington, was found guilty in the hit-and-run case of three counts of criminal vehicular homicide and was acquitted on a fourth count addressing whether he was drunk when he killed Mollie Mahowald, 24, an Army specialist, just after bar closing on Sept. 25.
Hartley, who has a long criminal history with at least 27 driving convictions, had rejected a proposed plea deal early this year that would have sent him to prison for 13 years had he admitted to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. District Judge Chris Wilton revoked Hartley’s bail, meaning he will remain jailed until sentencing on May 10.
Mahowald was run over about 2:25 a.m. in the 9700 block of Main Street, a few miles from her home. She was standing by her truck with others when she was hit by the speeding motorcycle, the criminal complaint says.
Defense attorney Robert Miller did not deny Hartley’s role in the crash, but he painted the incident as a “horrific accident” on a dark, gravel road with no lane markers. Miller told the jury there was “no scientific evidence” that Hartley was over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, since authorities never conducted a blood-alcohol test.
A witness told police that Hartley appeared “hammered” and had been hanging out on the road and doing burnouts earlier that evening. Authorities found him 13 hours after the crash, his motorcycle hidden under a canoe.
Mahowald, a graduate of New Prague High School, spent her 19th birthday serving in Iraq as a vehicle mechanic, her father Peter Mahowald said. She served another tour in Afghanistan shortly thereafter, then joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2015 after returning home.
She had been studying to be a veterinary technician.