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Franklin man who hit man with truck and drove away convicted of manslaughter

More than two years after the death of Randy Oletzke, Russel Allen Doucette has been convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Oletzke died in July 2017 at the farmsite where the two lived after Doucette hit him with a truck and drove away.

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Russel Allen Doucette

GRANITE FALLS — Russel Allen Doucette, 39, of Franklin, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter Thursday for his role in the death of Randy Lee Oletzke, 59, of Franklin.

Doucette is to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Dec. 17.

In the evening of July 28, 2017, Oletzke was found dead at the farmsite where the two men lived. Doucette had called authorities. He was accused of striking Oletzke with his truck the evening before and driving away.

The felony second-degree manslaughter charge was for creating an unreasonable risk and consciously taking the chance of causing death or bodily harm to another. Doucette was acquitted of a charge of criminal vehicular manslaughter, also a felony, for leaving the scene and failing to contact authorities.

Doucette was convicted by a jury in Yellow Medicine County after he was granted a change of venue from Renville County.

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Doucette’s attorney Erica Allex of Redwood Falls filed a motion in October seeking the change of venue, citing at least seven news outlets that have reported on Oletzke’s death and Doucette’s court case. The West Central Tribune was one of the outlets listed.

Doucette had pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in August. In a plea agreement, both parties agreed to a six-month jail sentence and probation.

However, Doucette withdrew his guilty plea in September after District Judge Dwayne Knutsen said he could not find a reason to depart from the guidelines. The guidelines would include a prison sentence.

According to court files, the incident began when Doucette drove his truck out of the farmyard while Oletzke reportedly tried to stop him.

Doucette told authorities that Oletzke was standing in front of the truck when he looped around the yard in his vehicle at speeds estimated at 70 to 75 miles per hour as he left the farm.

According to court records, Doucette later told law enforcement authorities that he was “pretty sure” he ran over Oletzke but kept driving to go drinking at a friend’s place.

The next evening, Doucette called the Renville County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies found Oletzke’s body.

An autopsy determined Oletzke had suffered severe head injuries and a broken right femur consistent with being hit by a vehicle.

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Evidence at the scene also suggested the body may have been moved and placed with the victim’s head lying within previous tire tracks from a mobile home, according to court records.

Also in the court records, the medical examiner said Oletzke would have been unable to move himself after being run over and did not appear to have been dragged by a vehicle. Oletzke's clothing allegedly was pushed up in a way that suggested the body had been dragged to the site where he was found.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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