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Redwood Falls, Minn., man’s attempted murder charges dismissed

OLIVIA — Two charges of attempted first-degree murder are being dropped against Brian Noel Hester, 46, of Redwood Falls.

Hester, who is currently in the Renville County Jail, was charged after a 38-mile, high-speed chase Dec. 3 in Renville and Redwood counties. He also faces two charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, fleeing a police officer, driving while impaired and driving after cancellation.

Renville County Assistant Attorney Laurence Stratton said he would dismiss the two attempted murder charges against Hester following an evidentiary hearing on Friday in Olivia.

Stratton said after reviewing investigatory materials collected in the case, he did not believe there was the evidence required for the two charges.

At the hearing, defense attorney Andrea Jo Lieser, Fairfax, challenged the two assault charges, as well as the basis for the DWI charge.

Lieser said that videos of the chase and arrest of the defendant captured on three different squad cars “lack the required elements of assault.’’

The criminal complaint charges that Hester had struck a squad car placed in a field approach to block his escape from a field.

Lieser said the video shows that Hester’s vehicle   “bumped’’ the squad car, but the car did not even jiggle from the impact. Olivia Police Officer Jason Krumheuer was seated in the car.

Lieser said a squad car maneuvered to successfully stop Hester’s vehicle in Redwood Falls, but her client had not targeted the vehicle.

The criminal complaint alleges Hester had “directed and aimed his vehicle directly” at Redwood County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Schroepher during an attempted stop along County Road 1. Officers had deployed stop sticks and squad cars on the road, but Hester drove into the ditch and around the squad cars, according to the complaint.

Lieser said one of the videos shows officers apparently laughing and joking at the end of the Dec. 3 incident, indicating that they had not been harmed.

No officers involved in the chase reported any injuries. The reports each officer filed afterward made no mention of having been fearful of being harmed during the incident, she said.

She also charged that there had been no driving behaviors warranting a traffic stop for the DWI charge. A blood-alcohol test taken after his arrest showed a 0.10 percent level, above the 0.08 percent limit, according to court documents.

The officer who initiated the stop had recognized Hester when he drove by him near Franklin, and the officer knew his license was cancelled, according to the criminal complaint.

The defense did not challenge the charges of fleeing a peace officer or driving after cancellation.

The complaint alleges that the chase reached speeds of 75 to 80 miles per hour, and that Hester drove his pickup truck through the city of Morton at 65 to 70 miles an hour.

District Judge Randall Slieter will be ruling on the defense challenges to the assault and DWI charges. The case is scheduled for trial in early April.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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