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Attorney challenges how evidence obtained

Laurine Marie Beaulieu appeared at an omnibus hearing in District Court in Hubbard County Wednesday. Beaulieu, 42, has been charged with five crimes, including two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, in connection with a fatal accident involvi...

Laurine Marie Beaulieu appeared at an omnibus hearing in District Court in Hubbard County Wednesday.

Beaulieu, 42, has been charged with five crimes, including two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, in connection with a fatal accident involving a bicyclist July 24 on Highway 71 near Itasca State Park.

This week's hearing centered on findings of fact for the prosecution and constitutional issues raised by the defense regarding collection of evidence.

County attorney Don Dearstyne also filed notice of his intent to appeal for an aggravated sentence.

Public defender Paul Sellers filed to suppress evidence gathered from the defendant's vehicle, at the scene of the apprehension and following placement into custody.

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Judge Robert Tiffany set a deadline of Nov. 7 for briefs to be submitted.

State Trooper James Senenfelder testified he found Beaulieu's vehicle approximately one mile north of the scene where Paul P. Howard, 52, of Rochester died.

Senenfelder said he followed a trail of liquid from the scene to an abandoned van.

According to Senenfelder, a pool of liquid about two-tenths of a mile north of the accident site indicated the driver stopped. A wrecked bicycle was found in the ditch nearby.

The bicyclist was traveling the same route as about 1,000 other bikers for the MS Tram, although the victim was not involved in the event, he said.

Senenfelder admitted to opening the passenger door to check for ownership papers in the glove compartment area below the passenger seat when a license plate check listed the vehicle as unregistered.

"That was the only way I could figure out who owned the vehicle to get an avenue for a lead," Senenfelder recounted.

He said he observed alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle, but did not collect or inspect any evidence other than the receipt of sale listing Beaulieu as the owner.

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Hubbard County Sheriff's Office investigator Jerry Tatro testified as to how he tracked Beaulieu to a residence near CSAH 20.

Tatro said he received a description of the defendant from information collected by Senenfelder.

Tatro learned a figure matching Beaulieu's description received a ride north to Itasca State Park.

At the park, Tatro said he spoke with an employee whose husband gave a ride to a woman fitting the van owner's description.

The driver, Clyde Hadrava, gave the same description of a Native American woman in her 30s with a red shirt, blue shorts and no shoes, attested Tatro. According to Tatro, Hadrava also said the passenger smelled strongly of alcohol.

Tatro said he found out Hadrava dropped off the suspect at the intersection of Highway 34 and CSAH 20 east of Park Rapids.

Conversations with other law enforcement officers about potential "hiding" locations near CSAH 20 led Tatro to the residence of Dennis Jackson.

Tatro and chief deputy Frank Homer spoke with a pair of girls outside the Jackson residence. Tatro said his conversation raised suspicions about the residence.

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Tatro said he followed one of the girls inside and later spoke with Lee Fairbanks, who led him to an unconscious Beaulieu in a bedroom of the house.

Tatro had deputy Chad Olson take Beaulieu into custody. Since the suspect showed signs of intoxication, Tatro said, he did not take a statement from her until the next day, when she was read her Miranda rights.

Tatro said he did not receive verbal permission to enter the house, but his badge was present.

Deputy Olson testified he followed the investigator to the location and remained outside the house until called inside.

After taking Beaulieu into custody, Olson said he overheard Beaulieu tell her daughter she killed someone and didn't mean it.

While he was transporting Beaulieu to jail, Olson said he received orders to take her to St. Joseph's Area Health Services for a blood test.

Olson said he did not obtain a warrant for the blood test due to the limited timeframe for effective toxicology and because the courthouse was still closed from a bomb threat the day before.

During cross-examination, Olson said the radio orders mentioned not reading an implied consent for the blood test. None was read, but the deputy did inform Beaulieu a blood test would be taken.

As a rebuttal witness, Sellers called deputy bailiff Al Bruns. Bruns testified Hubbard County held court in the basement of the jail the day after the bomb threat.

Bruns said during cross-examination parties failed to appear in court July 24 because the courthouse closure was broadcast on the radio.

Court administrator Darlene Gerbracht, a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, also testified the courts were disjointed on the day in question.

Prior to the hearing, Dearstyne filed a motion to pursue sentencing outside the normal guidelines for the charges if guilt is proven.

Dearstyne cited as grounds for the ruling factors including the fact that Beaulieu was on probation for a 3rd degree DWI in Crow Wing County, has a long history of chemical abuse and approximately seven to eight hours after the July 24 accident her blood alcohol concentration was still .13 (with .08 being the legal limit).

Tiffany ruled he would review the case law and make a determination regarding court procedure within two weeks.

jamesb@parkrapidsenterprise.com

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