A Minnesota man with a history of impaired driving will go to prison for fatally running a Moose Lake man off Interstate 35 in 2019.
Samuel Dakota Moreno, 25, of Marine on St. Croix, was unlicensed and "very impaired" when he rear-ended 63-year-old Joeffre Michael Kolosky's car near North Branch on Nov. 1, 2019, the Minnesota State Patrol reported.
Kolosky's Buick flipped into a ditch and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Moreno was tracked to a nearby rest stop, where officers said they had to deploy a Taser to arrest the combative suspect.
Moreno, who pleaded guilty March 5 to a felony count of criminal vehicular homicide, received his sentence Friday from Judge Bridgid Dowdal at an in-person hearing in State District Court in Chisago County.
The judge rejected Moreno's request for leniency, imposing a guideline prison term of 67 months and ordering the defendant to be taken into custody immediately.
According to court documents, Kolosky's 2003 Buick Park Avenue was found flipped on its roof in the ditch of northbound I-35 at about 5:30 a.m. Minnesota State Patrol troopers noted heavy tire skid marks in the right lane and separate tire tracks leading into the ditch, where the Buick came to a rest. A trail of antifreeze was observed leading away from the crash scene.
Heavy damage to the back of the Buick indicated it had been hit from behind at a high rate of speed in the right lane, pushing it into the ditch, while the other vehicle continued northbound.
Up the road, a Chisago County deputy found the 2001 Tundra parked at the Goose Creek Rest Area with heavy front-end damage. Both airbags had deployed; it was leaking antifreeze; and the front license plate was missing.
The deputy entered the rest stop, finding Moreno lying on the floor of the restroom with fresh blood on his face. It took several attempts to wake Moreno, who was described as having a "moderate odor of alcohol and a strong odor of burnt marijuana," a criminal complaint stated.
Moreno could not answer basic questions, "had bloodshot, watery eyes and appeared very unsteady when standing," officers said. While attempting to place him under arrest, he became combative and started yelling at officers, requiring the deputy to deploy his Taser multiple times.
In searching Moreno, officers found a bag of suspected marijuana, four marijuana pipes and a small plastic bag containing an unidentified substance. A search warrant was obtained to draw a sample of Moreno's blood.
Troopers said they recovered the front license plate from Moreno's truck in the grass near Kolosky's Buick. Conditions at the time of the crash were reported to be cloudy, with light snow flurries in the air, but dry roads.
Moreno has multiple traffic offenses on his record and had his license revoked after pleading guilty for operating while impaired in Polk County, Wisconsin, in July 2016.
Moreno also has been convicted in Minnesota of domestic abuse and of violating a restraining or no-contact order on at least six occasions since 2014, according to a search of court records.
Moreno admitted in his March plea that he "consumed enough alcohol to deprive me of the clear mind and intellect necessary to operate a motor vehicle." An agreement with the Chisago County Attorney's Office, which dismissed four additional charges, allowed him to argue for a sentencing departure.
Defense attorney Thomas Sieben said his client was physically abused as a child, struggled with mental health issues and suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2015 car crash. He wrote that Moreno, the father of an 18-month-old son, "has accepted responsibility and has shown genuine remorse" and is prepared to serve as a role model.
While on pretrial release, the defendant has maintained sobriety, attended a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim-impact panel and completed the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge short-term program, while continuing to work on the 13-month, long-term program at the Duluth campus, the attorney said.
"Mr. Moreno stated in his psychological evaluation that he should not have been drinking and using drugs and now he must live with his decision," Sieben wrote. "He feels awful about what happened and knows it's all his fault. He feels guilty all the time and wishes he made a better choice. Finally, Mr. Moreno stated that he wants to help others by telling his story, he wants to engage in speaking events and work with MADD so that others can learn from his mistakes."
But prosecutor David Hemming argued for the presumptive prison term, saying Moreno had not shown that the facts of his case were "different from a typical case" of criminal vehicular homicide or that his "age, prior record, remorse, cooperation, attitude in court and support of family and friends" made him better suited for probation.
"Defendant is not particularly amenable to probation, as substantial and compelling circumstances are not present for this case," Hemming wrote in a brief response.