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Suspect in fatal hit-and-run near Twin Cities ‘believed she struck a deer’

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. — The driver who is suspected of striking and killing a 55-year-old Inver Grove Heights grandmother Saturday, Jan. 5, told investigators she thought she had hit a deer.

Breyona Cotton, 30, went to the Inver Grove Heights police station with her attorney about 12:45 p.m. Sunday — 19 hours after the crash — and said she was the driver and that “she believed she struck a deer,” according to court documents.

Haimanot Gebremedhin, of Inver Grove Heights, was found dead about 5:45 p.m. Saturday. She had injuries to her face and hand, and her body “was positioned in a way that indicated she had been struck by a vehicle,” documents said.

Cotton, who lives in Inver Grove Heights, said she hit something and continued before she pulled over and “looked around expecting to see a deer running away,” documents said.

Cotton drove her car — a 2013 Hyundai Sonata — to the police station Sunday, and officers found significant damage consistent with the crash, according to the court document.

Cotton was booked into Inver Grove Heights jail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident, and released to her attorney.

Neither Cotton nor her attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday.