Crookston man faces murder charge in crash
A Crookston man who allegedly stole a police cruiser and caused a fatal crash on Saturday in Crookston is facing charges that include murder in the second degree.
Ricardo Mello, 23, also faces four other charges related to the crash and a separate charge from another incident the previous month.
He had his first appearance in Polk County District Court Tuesday. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21.
Mello is in jail at the Polk County Justice Center in Crookston. Bond has been set at $750,000.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in jail for murder in the second degree. Other charges include:
-- Criminal vehicle homicide with a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine;
-- Felony theft of a motor vehicle with a maximum sentence of five years and $10,000 fine;
-- Felony assault in the fourth degree with a maximum sentence of three years and $6,000 fine;
-- Gross misdemeanor for obstructing the legal process and/or arrest with a maximum sentence of a year and $3,000 fine.
-- And, in a separate incident, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, which belongs to Gilbert Mello, on Aug. 31.
According to police, officers went to talk to Ricardo Mello and Carlos Romero Jr., 42, around 2 p.m. Saturday following complaints that they'd been threatening people and damaging cars.
Romero stopped when told to but Mello ignored officers and, when confronted, fought them. Despite being maced and Tasered, Mello stole a police cruiser. He drove at high speed for about five blocks before losing control and striking the driver's side of a Chevy S-10 pickup.
Eddie Robert Briggs, 78, Thief River Falls, was fatally injured in the crash. His wife Patricia Johnette Briggs, 57, Thief River Falls, was taken to Crookston's Riverview Hospital.
Mello has had numerous runs in with the law in the past, according to court records, including convictions for assault in 2006, disobeying court orders in 2008 and 2009 and disorderly conduct in May.