A motorist who was drunk when he fatally struck a boy in a child's wagon in southeastern Minnesota will not go on trial Monday as scheduled now that he has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Myles Keller, 70, entered in Olmsted County District Court what is known as an Alford plea, meaning that he maintains being not guilty of the charge but acknowledges there being enough evidence to convict him.
A gross misdemeanor charge of reckless driving and an additional drunk-driving misdemeanor will be dismissed.
While the maximum sentence Keller faces is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, it's possible he won't face any incarceration. Keller remains free ahead of sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.
On the afternoon of May 24, 2016, Keller, who lives near Mantorville, Minn., hit 5-year-old Lukas Wharton as the boy rolled down an embankment and a few feet into the road while playing with his siblings outside their home near Byron. Lukas died about a week later.
County Attorney Mark Ostrem said a charge of felony criminal vehicular homicide was not filed because it would have been difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Keller's actions behind the wheel played a substantial role in Lukas' death.
Keller's blood alcohol content an hour after the crash was between .081 and 0.101 percent, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.
Ostrem said Keller had three beers at a bar before he took an evasive and lengthier route toward his home, striking Lukas along the way.
Upon the boy's death, grandmother Lynn Honermann wrote on Facebook, "Our hearts are broken with unbearable pain. I keep thinking I hear his voice and his laugh. I pick up his toys and can't help but cry. ... We will always have this hole in our hearts."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482