Drunk driver who left his victims in a parking lot loses appeal

Fabrizio Montermini isn’t having a lot of luck at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

A year ago, he was given a 14 1/2 year prison sentence after being convicted of third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide and six counts of criminal vehicular operation for a drunk driving crash that killed an 18-year old. That was after the Minnesota Court of Appeals allowed him to withdraw a guilty plea in the 2006 crash that allowed him to try his luck with a jury.

That appeal resulted in his getting a stiffer sentence and today, the Court of Appeals rejected his appeal that it constitutes double jeopardy.

In its opinion today, the court wasn’t particularly sympathetic:

The egregious nature of appellant’s conduct, and the reactions it generated on the part of his passengers, establishes that the conduct was eminently dangerous to human life, that appellant must have been aware he was placing human life at risk, and that he heedlessly disregarded that risk. It also excludes any rational inference that he was merely negligent.

Nor should they have been. Fabrizio Montermini may qualify as one of Minnesota’s most despicable drunk drivers based on this must-read description in today’s decision that should be required reading for anyone who thinks about getting into a car with a drunk driver.

The undisputed evidence is that, on the evening of January 13, 2006, appellant and B.F. met four friends at a home in Inver Grove Heights to go dancing at Stargate, a Maplewood nightclub. Appellant and B.F. arrived at the home between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. and appellant began drinking a mixture of vodka and Gatorade. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the group left for Stargate in two cars. There were three passengers in appellant’s car. B.F. was seated in the front passenger seat, A.S. was in the rear driver-side seat, and M.C. was seated in the rear passenger-side seat. J.C. drove S.J.

in the other car. Appellant continued to drink the vodka-and-Gatorade mixture as he drove.

None of the group members knew how to get to Stargate, so appellant was relying on directions he was receiving by phone from a friend. The two cars initially drove north from Inver Grove Heights toward St. Paul on Highway 52. When he reached I-94, appellant headed west, but missed the exit for I-35E north. Appellant exited the freeway when he realized they were heading in the wrong direction and stopped his car on a side street. When the trailing car arrived, he reentered I-94 heading back east. On this pass, appellant again missed the turn for north I-35E and continued east on I-94 until S.J., with whom he was speaking by cell phone, confirmed that appellant was driving the wrong direction. He exited at Ruth Street, intending to reenter I-94 heading west. But appellant missed the freeway entrance ramp and instead turned west onto Old Hudson Road, a frontage road with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour, at approximately 9:40 p.m. He continued talking to S.J. by cell phone as he approached a curve in the road at between 58 and 61 miles per hour. As he rounded the curve, appellant lost control of the car, which skidded sideways into the oncoming lane, and the passenger side of his car struck the front end of an oncoming vehicle.

The collision left all three passengers of appellant’s vehicle unconscious. B.F. suffered a severe head injury and multiple fractures. M.C. suffered a broken femur. A.S. received cuts and bruises. Four occupants of the car appellant struck were also injured. Appellant, who remained conscious, exited his vehicle. He walked down an embankment and urinated, then returned to his car. Despite the efforts of a bystander to stop him,

appellant drove up a curb, nearly striking other bystanders, then drove away from the accident scene. He rolled through a red light before turning north on Ruth Street, then accelerated to nearly 80 miles per hour. When appellant came upon an unlit church parking lot, he dragged the unconscious bodies of his passengers from the car onto the cold pavement, then left.

The last minutes of the people in the car were horrible:

Appellant resumed driving on I-94 heading east, and according to M.C., his driving became “worse.” A.S. said he was driving “[v]ery, very fast,” and estimated he was going 90 miles per hour. M.C. testified that she saw the speedometer indicate the car was going 115 miles per hour. She stated, “I was sitting there screaming for my life asking him to let me out of the car, to pull over and let me out.” But according to M.C., appellant would either ignore them or say, “No way, dog.”

His attorney argued at the trial that he should be sentenced to probation.

Here’s the court’s opinion.

  • Brian L.

    Congratulations are due to both the State Patrol and the county prosecution team. Mr. Montermini has had every fairness extended to him, but in the end, justice has been done. He did NOT get away, either when he drove off in 2006 or went to court in 2012. Thanks again!