Jurors on Friday convicted a motorcyclist with a long criminal history of racing down a rural Scott County road, swerving into the wrong lane and fatally striking a Lakeville woman as she stood by the side of the road late at night.
Matthew K. Hartley, 34, of Farmington, was found guilty in the hit-and-run case of three counts of criminal vehicular homicide and acquitted on a fourth count addressing whether he was drunk at the time when he killed Mollie Mahowald, 24, an Army specialist, just after bar close on Sept. 25.
Hartley had rejected a proposed plea deal early this year that would have sent him to prison for 13 years had he admitted to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. District Judge Chris Wilton revoked Hartley’s bail, meaning he will remain jailed until sentencing on May 10.
Mahowald was run over about 2:25 a.m. in the 9700 block of Main Street, a few miles from her home. She was on the side of the road, standing by her truck with other people when she was hit by the speeding motorcycle, according to the criminal complaint.
She spent the day at a barbecue in downtown Elko New Market with family and friends, then headed down the street to a local bar. She called her younger sister for a ride, who arrived a few minutes later to find an officer performing CPR.
Defense attorney Robert Miller did not deny Hartley’s role in the crash, but he painted the incident as a “horrific accident” on a dark, gravel road with no lane markers. Miller told the jury there was “no scientific evidence” that Hartley was over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, since authorities never conducted a blood-alcohol test. Matthew K. Hartley
A witness told police that Hartley appeared “hammered” and had been hanging out on the road, listening to music and doing burnouts earlier that evening.
Authorities located him 13 hours after the crash — his motorcycle hidden under a canoe — after a tip from his friend.
At the time, Hartley had been convicted of driving while intoxicated two months earlier and had another one pending. His motorcycle operator’s permit had expired in June, and he also had his standard driver’s license revoked, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
Hartley’s criminal history in Minnesota has numerous violations, includes at least 27 driving convictions. In 2015, he was accused of attempting to fake a seizure to get out of a DWI after being stopped by police while heading down Interstate 35W at 95 miles per hour.
He’s also been convicted of domestic abuse, terroristic threats, burglary and theft.
Mahowald, a graduate of New Prague High School, signed up for the Army when she was 17 and spent her 19th birthday serving in Iraq as a vehicle mechanic, her father said. She served another tour in Afghanistan shortly thereafter, then joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2015 after returning home.
She was studying to be a veterinary technician.
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