Posted: Monday, 14 February 2011 3:56PM

Trial Set For Fatal Hit and Run In Church Parking Lot



MANKATO – A June trial date has been set for the Mankato man accused of running over another man in a downtown Mankato parking lot last September.
 
The attorney for 20-year-old Aaron James Whiteaker told a Blue Earth County Judge Monday afternoon that they have been unable to reach a plea agreement and were ready to go to trial.
 
And it could be a long trial.
 
The defense said they  would be ready to call at least 30 witnesses. “And 30 is a low estimate,” said public defender Carrie Guinn Marsh Leone.
 
Leone told the court that Whiteaker is not demanding a speedy trial.
 
Assistant County Attorney Michael Hanson, appearing on behalf of his colleague Pat McDermott, said the prosecution was planning on calling 15 witnesses, “maybe more.”
 
The incident happened around 2:30 a.m. on September 24, 2010 in the parking lot of St. John’s Catholic Church at Warren and Broad Streets.
 
When police arrive they found 20-year-old Thanh Tri Vu on the ground and unresponsive. Vu would spend the next eight days on life support, dying on October 1.
 
A juvenile female was arrested at first, but was later released after police determined Whiteaker was driving. The car belonged to the parents of the girl.
 
In a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Vu, Whiteaker’s attorney claims the accident was caused by the negligence of Vu.
 
Whiteaker, and other witnesses, claim Vu and other men were swarming the car. As one person approached Whiteaker from the driver’s side, he swerved right and stuck Vu. Vu was reported to be approaching the car with a large branch.
 
The June 6th trial could last as long as a week.
 
Whiteaker remains in custody on $50,000 bail.

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