Photo by Ken Francis, Staff Writer/West Sherburne Tribune
ELK RIVER, Minn. - A 19-year-old Monticello man stands charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with a motorcycle crash that killed two people in mid-April.
Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott says Cody James Moen was arrested Monday. Tuesday morning, the teenager had his first court appearance on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
The driver of the motorcycle, 31-year-old Brien Wickham of Big Lake, was killed when the machine collided with a passenger vehicle on County Road 17 just south of Highway 10 around 2:45 p.m. on April 18. His passenger, 26-year-old Jacquelyn Lee of Ramsey, died from her injuries after being airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
Parents of both victims were in the courtroom for Moen's appearance. "I am just grateful for everything that the County Sheriffs have done for us and informing us and not leaving us out of the loop," said Ted Lee, Jacquelyn's father.
Cheri Lee emerged from the courtroom to tearfully show pictures of her daughter and the 2-year-old grandson she and Ted are now raising. "I lost my daughter and my grandson lost his mama... Brien, his daughters lost him. A 6-year-old and a 9-year-old do not have their dad anymore."
Authorities took Moen into custody after investigators determined he was operating his vehicle in a grossly negligent matter which caused the deaths of Wickham and Lee.
A criminal complaint says a witness told investigators Moen was driving an estimated 80 miles per hour when he tried to pass another vehicle on the right shoulder of northbound Highway 10. That witness says the vehicle driven by Moen hit the gravel shoulder, Moen overcorrected as he tried to regain control of the car, and then the vehicle slid through the median and into the southbound lanes of Highway 10 where he struck the motorcycle.
Other witnesses backed up the sequence of events, and an accident reconstructionist estimated Moen's speed at the time he hit the victims at 95 miles per hour.
Moen has previous convictions on his record, including careless and reckless driving. In 2011 he was convicted of fleeing from police, doing 50 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. A 90-day sentence was reduced to 10 days in that case, along with a year of probation. The probation was still in effect when the accident on April 18 occurred.
Bail was set Tuesday at $75,000 as the judge ruled that Moen was a danger to public safety. He is eligible for a $20,000 bail if the defendant agrees to conditions, including agreeing to stay drug and alcohol free, surrendering his license, and remaining law abiding.
If found guilty, Moen could serve 10 years in prison on each count.
"I am glad he cannot drive a car," commented Richard Fosse of Big Lake, Brien Wickham's father. "That is the most important thing to me."
His sentiments were echoed by the other parents. "It is a tragedy that we cannot ever repair. It is something that we learn to live with, but it never goes away," said Ted Lee.
Moen was given a public defender, since he said he was unable to hire a lawyer.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )