Driver who killed best friend sentenced to a yearArea News
-- There were tears on both sides of the courtroom Monday as 20-year-old Chad Lexvold was sentenced to a year in jail for causing the car crash that killed his best friend in March 2011.
By: Sarah Gorvin, Pierce County Herald
RED WING, Minn. -- There were tears on both sides of the courtroom Monday as 20-year-old Chad Lexvold was sentenced to a year in jail for causing the car crash that killed his best friend in March 2011.
The Kenyon man pleaded guilty in December to three counts of criminal vehicular homicide or operation. Jacob Baalson, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene of a one-vehicle crash in rural Goodhue County March 19, 2011.
Lexvold, who was driving the vehicle, was charged last October. Before he was sentenced Monday, Lexvold turned around to face Baalson’s family.
“You have always treated me like one of your own,” he told them. “The experiences that Jacob and I shared together are endless. I am truly so sorry.”
Lexvold had to stop his statement many times as he audibly sobbed.
“There is not one day that goes by where I do not think about what I did,” he said. “It was easily the biggest mistake of my life.”
Both Baalson’s mother Jennifer Baalson and sister Heather Baalson read victim impact statements. As they spoke, other family members held up a large portrait of Jacob Baalson as well as two boards covered in photos.
“How does a mother figure out how to live after her baby is taken in a violent way? How do I get the vision out of my mind of my son’s body and what happened to my son’s body?” Jennifer Baalson said.
“My heart goes out to Chad,” she continued. “I don’t hate him. I think of Chad as Jacob’s brother. Jacob and Chad were so close. My heart breaks for him.”
According to a court complaint filed last October, Lexvold was driving a minivan near the intersection of County Road 30 and 50th Street in Holden Township when he lost control. The van rolled multiple times.
Jacob Baalson died. Two other people, Luke Trevis, 19, Nerstrand, and Nicole Groth, 18, Zumbrota, were injured in the crash.
Urine tests showed that Lexvold’s blood alcohol content was .18, more than twice the legal driving limit for adults. A crash reconstructionist determined that Lexvold had been driving at least 83 mph at the time of the crash, the complaint says.
Lexvold entered a Norgaard plea Dec. 22, which basically means he wanted to plead guilty, but was unable to recall facts due to intoxication. As a result of a plea agreement, three other counts of criminal vehicular homicide, two counts of driving while intoxicated and one count of reckless driving were dismissed.
Both Jennifer and Heather Baalson asked First District Judge Kevin Mark for a stronger sentence than the year of jail time outlined in the plea agreement.
“What kind of message is that sending to my family, to the community, to other kids?” Jennifer Baalson said. “Jacob has received a life sentence. So has everyone else who loved and cared for him.”
Lexvold himself also asked for a stronger sentence.
“I feel that I deserve far more for what I’ve done,” he said.
Still, Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester and defense attorney Thomas Gorman requested the one-year sentence outlined in the plea agreement.
“The law does not have the ability to bring back what is most important to both sides,” Kuester said. She added that the agreed upon sentence allows for “both sides to walk away with the ability to move forward.”
“There’s really not much more that needs to be said,” Gorman said following Kuester’s statements. “He is very remorseful for what happened. He made a terrible mistake that evening that he can’t take back.”
Mark agreed with the attorneys’ statements and sentenced Lexvold to one year in Goodhue County Jail.
“It’s times like this that judges wish they had magic words … that would give peace,” Mark said. “There are clearly no winners anywhere in this particular instance.”
Still, Mark said there is something good that can come out of the incident. Lexvold’s sentence includes 10 years of probation.
During that time, he must make three public speaking appearances a year, explaining the dangers of drinking and driving.
“That’s the biggest and most important part of your probation,” Mark said.
Lexvold was booked into Goodhue County Jail Monday evening. As per state statute, he may be able to serve two-thirds of that time behind bars, and the last third on supervised release. He could be released in January 2013.