A 32-year-old unlicensed driver was given a one-year jail sentence after admitting he sped through a red light at a St. Paul intersection and killed another motorist in a collision nearly a year ago.
Salvador J. Battles, of St. Paul, was sentenced in Ramsey County District Court after pleading guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the early morning crash on Feb. 26, 2022, at Cretin and Marshall avenues that killed Isiah D. Valle-Kirk, 25, of St. Paul.
With credit for time served since his arrest, Battles has about 7½ months of jail time remaining.
Judge John Guthmann also put Battles on probation for eight years and set aside a 4¾-year sentence sought by prosecutors. That sentence would have put Battles in prison for nearly three years with the balance to be satisfied on supervised release.
Defense attorney Naomi Martin had sought a downward departure from sentencing guidelines and argued in a court filing for probation with no time served. Martin cited Battles' lack of a criminal record before the crash and his cooperation with the investigation.
The state Department of Public Safety said Battles, who grew up and went to college in Ohio, did not have a Minnesota driver's license.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police arrived at the crash scene shortly after 2:15 a.m. to find Valle-Kirk behind the wheel of his car, which was badly damaged. Medics took him to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died.
Officers met at the scene with Battles, who showed signs of intoxication and failed a police field sobriety test. Battles said he had one beer in the time leading up to the crash, contended he had a green light and thought he was going about 30 miles per hour.
He said he was turning left when the other driver "hit me," the complaint quoted him as telling police.
However, a nearby driver said he saw Battle's SUV going at least 40 mph as it went through a red light and hit Valle-Kirk's car broadside. The speed limit on Cretin Avenue is 25 mph.
According to an online fundraising campaign organized by the family, before the crash Valle-Kirk had been socializing with friends and family at a cousin's home. He left for work but returned to pick up something he had left behind, the online posting said, before heading out again. The crash occurred soon afterward.