Trial delayed in fatal North Shore crash
The trial for a Hibbing truck driver accused of criminal vehicular homicide in a crash that killed the Silver Bay mayor's son has been postponed until October.
John Ray Carpenter, 60, was set to stand trial next month in the 2015 death of Andrew Johnson, who was killed when his pickup truck was struck head-on by Carpenter's septic tanker in October 2015.
Authorities allege that Carpenter, who has a long history of traffic collisions, operated his truck in a "grossly negligent manner" and that he caused the crash by either falling asleep or blacking out at the wheel.
The postponement was mutually requested by attorneys, with Lake County prosecutor Lisa Hanson explaining that the parties are still seeking records from the Minnesota Department of Transportation that may be relevant to the case.
"Given the sheer volume of the documents received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the delays that have been experienced in getting those documents, and possible follow-up investigation that may be need to be conducted, the parties are in agreement that the June 21-23 trial setting has become unworkable," Hanson wrote in a letter to the court.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden rescheduled the three-day trial to begin Oct. 9 in State District Court in Two Harbors, according to online records.
Johnson, the 31-year-old son of Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson, was traveling along Lax Lake Road on Oct. 22, 2015, when the collision occurred. Carpenter reportedly admitted to police at the scene that he either fell asleep or lost consciousness. Witnesses also reported seeing his truck driving erratically, a criminal complaint states.
Investigators said Carpenter's medical records indicated that he had a documented history of obstructive sleep apnea dating back to 2001, and that his driving privileges had been briefly suspended in 2005 for failing to submit to a physical exam.
The complaint indicated that Carpenter was involved in another crash just a week earlier when his tanker truck hit a parked vehicle, causing $9,000 in damage. Records found that he had been involved in at least 13 motor vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2015, authorities said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation subsequently declared him unfit to operate a commercial vehicle, and a judge set a similar restriction as a condition of his bail.