North Branch man accused of killing Rochester native appears in court on updated murder charges
(KSTP) – Prosecutors have upgraded charges against the man accused of running over and killing a teenager last month in Forest Lake.
It happened in the early morning hours of July 16 in the parking lot of Lakeside Veteran’s Memorial Park. There, first responders found 17-year-old Darisha Tela Bailey Vath, of Stacy. Despite aid from emergency personnel, Vath died at the scene.
Dylan Robert Simmons, 20, from North Branch, was charged in the following days with third-degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide. However, on Monday, prosecutors filed an amended complaint, charging Simmons with two counts of second-degree murder and three counts of second-degree assault.
Simmons appeared in Washington County court Thursday, August 24, on the new charges.
Laura Perkins, a spokesperson for the Washington County Attorney’s Office, released a statement Monday saying, “We are actively pursuing the most serious charges justified by the facts. As a result of Forest Lake Police Department’s continued investigation of the case, there is new evidence to support more serious and additional charges against Mr. Simmons.”
The new charging documents state that investigators got video from an office building near the park that showed Simmons drove in the direction of a group of bystanders multiple times before hitting Vath.
According to the complaint, Simmons’ vehicle quickly drove toward the pedestrians, narrowly missing them, then looped around and “again rapidly accelerated towards the group,” narrowly missing them again but hitting a parked vehicle.
The document adds that Simmons then backed up and “again lurched forward, striking and then driving over Victim before leaving the parking lot.”
Three people who were in that group confirmed that Simmons nearly hit them multiple times, and all of them told police they believed he was intentionally trying to hurt them.
Also on Monday, prosecutors filed a notice that they intend to seek an aggravated sentence if Simmons is convicted because the crime was particularly cruel, Vath was particularly vulnerable and it was committed in the presence of children.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison while criminal vehicular homicide is punishable by up to 10 years and second-degree assault carries up to seven years in prison.
Simmons is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Thursday.