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Crash reconstruction will determine defense's next steps in deaths of Gopher coach's son, 1 other

In his most recent court appearance, the attorney for James Blue — the driver of the vehicle on the night Mack Motzko and Sam Schuneman were killed — asked that they be able to see completed accident reconstruction reports by the Minnesota State Patrol and others before Blue enters a plea to the charges of murder and criminal vehicular homicide brought against him.

Mack Motzko portrait.jpg
Mack Motzko was a 2020 graduate of St. Cloud Cathedral, where he played in two state tournaments for the Crusaders boys hockey team. He was killed in a car accident in Orono, Minn., on Saturday, July 24, 2021. Mick Hatten / Forum News Service

MINNEAPOLIS — Reconstruction of the July accident that killed Sam Schuneman and Mack Motzko is the next piece of critical information needed before the driver behind the wheel that night enters a plea in court.

That was the primary topic of attorneys and Judge Regina Chu on Monday, Oct. 11, when James Blue appeared before the Hennepin County Court via Zoom.

Blue, 51, has been charged with multiple counts of murder and criminal vehicular homicide in the Orono, Minnesota, accident late on a Saturday night, July 24. Passengers Schuneman, 24, died at the scene and Motzko, 20, died a few hours later after being rushed to a Twin Cities hospital.

Fred Bruno, the attorney for Blue, said the defense is waiting on the Minnesota State Patrol and others, including the maker of Blue’s car, to issue reports on the accident.

Bruno, who proclaims his reputation as “the fixer” on the website for his Golden Valley law firm, raised the idea of “vehicular malfunction” as a possible cause for the car leaving the road when Blue was driving. Bruno said that the “black box” data on the speed of the vehicle prior to the accident is also needed before they can begin informed plea negotiations.

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While Blue waived his right to a speedy trial, Judge Chu noted that she would like to keep this case on track, and scheduled Blue’s next court appearance for the morning of Dec. 28.

Toxicology reports previously released have shown that Blue was intoxicated by more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota, and he also admitted consuming THC edibles prior to driving Schuneman and Motzko on a residential street near Blue’s Orono home on Lake Minnetonka. Schuneman was in the front passenger seat and Motzko in the back seat.

Preliminary reports on the accident indicated that Blue was driving as fast as 99 miles per hour before his car, a Bentley, left the roadway and struck trees. Blue, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was hospitalized with minor injuries.

He told police at the scene that he was “guilty” but has not yet entered a formal plea in the charges against him.

Motzko, the son of Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey coach Bob Motzko , was a 2020 graduate of St. Cloud Cathedral High School and was planning to play junior hockey in British Columbia this winter. The Gophers and St. Cloud State, which will meet this weekend, are both wearing helmet stickers honoring Mack Motzko this season.

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