Drunk driver 4X limit in fatal crash gets less than 5 years - KMSP-TV

Drunk driver 4 times legal limit gets less than 5 years for killing motorcyclist

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HASTINGS, Minn. (KMSP) -

A drunk driver who was four times the legal limit when she struck and killed a motorcyclist last year was sentenced to 57 months in prison by Dakota County Jude Michael Mayer on Wednesday.

Leah Colwell, 45, pleaded guilty, but the victim's family says she hasn't learned her lesson. Colwell will spend behind bars for her role in the crash that ended Jeff Trondson's life. Colwell had posted bail, but returned to jail after testing positive for meth -- a clear violation of the terms of her release.

Trondson's family planned to ask the judge to sentence Colwell to the maximum 10 years for the felony homicide count; however, they were told that Colwell -- who prosecutors contend has some half dozen prior alcohol-related offenses dating back to 1990 -- would likely to get somewhere between 4 and 5 years behind bars, and that projection was consistent.

The year-long journey toward justice has been a rough road for Trondson's loved ones.

"I don't think I've cried yet," Ryan Dehn admitted. "I can't call him. I have yet to delete his number in my phone because I can't."

Trondson's father, Dave Williams, still comes to the Apple Valley intersection where the 29-year-old Harley enthusiast was killed by Colwell, who was four times over the legal limit for alcohol when she turned right in front of Trondson's motorcycle in 160th Street. He kisses the ground where his son took his last breaths almost every day.

"My son was my hunting partner, my fishing partner, my riding partner, my best friend," Williams said. "I lost a lot."

In a surprise move in May, Colwell pleaded guilty to two counts -- including criminal vehicular homicide while under the influence. She remained free on bail until earlier this month when she failed a drug test. Trondson's loved ones say that shows she hasn't learned her lesson yet.

"A month away, and you are going to get high? Proves you are a junkie, and that's all you will ever be your entire life," Justin Dehn said. "You deserve to sit and rot."

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