State files aggravated sentence for driver charged with killing 18-year-old |

State files aggravated sentence for driver charged with killing 18-year-old

Rachel Mills
Updated: March 24, 2021 06:42 PM
Created: March 24, 2021 06:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Eighteen-year-old Erika Cruz lost her life just over a month ago when Sterling Haukom's vehicle crashed into hers. Within an hour of the accident, the memorial began growing along the school fence at the scene of the crash.

Now, the story is playing out in a courtroom as the state pushes for justice for Cruz. Haukom is charged with driving while intoxicated and vehicular homicide. He has pleaded not guilty  

"There's only two pleas you can enter, guilty or not guilty. What I usually tell people is when folks are not ready to say they're guilty, they have to say not guilty. So that just keeps that process going," Mark Ostrem, Olmsted County attorney, said. 

It may seem odd that Haukom is claiming he is not at fault, but Ostrem said this is typical.

"It seems nonsensical for someone who at the time of the crash admitted that he was driving and admitted that he hurt or killed this young lady. It seems nonsensical that he would now say not guilty. But procedurally that's the only plea he could enter unless he just pled guilty straight up and took the worst of the worst," Ostrem said. 

Ostrem also said in this case, the state is pushing for a tougher sentence, or what's called an aggravated sentence. 

"We're going to seek something more than the guideline sentence, and so we've gone ahead and filed that because there are some really really egregious facts in this case. Obviously, the loss of life is the most important one," Ostrem said. 

According to court documents, Haukom admitted he had 15 drinks before getting behind the wheel that night. The typical sentence he would face is four years, but the prosecution is pushing for ten.  

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(ABC 6 News) - The man charged with driving drunk and killing an 18-year-old woman in a crash in southeast Rochester entered a not guilty plea.

Sterling Royce Haukom, 34 of Rochester, pleaded not guilty to criminal vehicular homicide and DWI Tuesday.

Rochester police said Haukom was driving north on 8th Avenue SE, when his truck collided with the vehicle driven by Erika Cruz. The force of the collision pushed both vehicles across the intersection and into a fence at Lincoln School.

Cruz later died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.

According to court documents, Haukom was very animated and told officers that he was the driver of the Ford truck, that the other driver was deceased, and that he had killed her.

A trial date has not yet been scheduled.

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