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Driver charged in University of Minnesota researcher's death

Twenty-four-year-old Ebony Miller was killed in a car crash along University Avenue SE on Nov. 18, 2022.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 on Nov. 28, 2022.

Prosecutors say the man accused of causing the car crash that killed 24-year-old University of Minnesota medical researcher Ebony Miller was driving under the influence at the time of the collision.

Kenneth Spencer Jr., of Maple Grove, was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with Miller's death on Nov. 18.

According to a criminal complaint, the 25-year-old admitted to officers following the crash that he consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana prior to driving. A blood draw revealed that Spencer's blood alcohol concentration was almost twice the legal limit to drive, and according to court documents, he "made utterances admitting to running the red light."

When investigators reviewed traffic cameras, they saw Miller's car enter an intersection on a green light, and Spencer drive through the intersection "with an obvious red light," the complaint said. Crash review data revealed that Spencer was driving nearly 75 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone at the time of the crash.

Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
Investigators say Kenneth Spencer was doing 75 in a 30 mph zone and had used alcohol and pot when he struck and killed 24-year-old U of M researcher Ebony Miller.

According to the complaint, Spencer's driving privileges were previously revoked when he hit Miller, and he had a prior impaired driving-related loss of license from July 2021.

Ebony Miller came to Minnesota from the Bahamas to go to medical school and become a doctor.

"What an incredible life story. At age 24, she has accomplished so much," her father Kermit Miller said. "I was so proud of her... We come from a small island nation and she had to overcome so many obstacles just to get into the U.S."

Miller was working as a researcher in the U of M's pancreatic research department before she was killed. The Center for Immunology at the school called Ebony "a wonderful soul who brought light to all who knew her."

Spencer is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Feb. 9, 2023.

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