Hexum pleads guilty
GRANITE FALLS -- Derek Hexum said that did not know that his brother Devin carried a handgun when they met Daniel Scheff in downtown Granite Falls and drove him out of town toward Prairie's Edge Casino Resort on the night of July 18.
GRANITE FALLS - Derek Hexum said that did not know that his brother Devin carried a handgun when they met Daniel Scheff in downtown Granite Falls and drove him out of town toward Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort on the night of July 18.
Nor did he know that sometime later, Scheff, 30, was lying alongside a rural roadway, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by his brother when he picked him up at the scene and drove away that night.
That’s the account that Derek Hexum, 19, of Balaton, gave to District Judge Thomas Van Hon in Granite Falls on Monday as he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aiding an offender to avoid arrest.
Judge VanHon deferred acceptance of the plea until sentencing. The judge accepted terms of an agreement reached between the prosecution and defense, and allowed Derek Hexum to be released on his own recognizance from the Yellow Medicine County Jail, where he has been held since late July.
He was immediately transported to the Lyon County Jail in Marshall, where he was wanted on a warrant for a felony charge of fleeing a police officer. He is alleged to have led police on a high-speed chase to within one-half mile of the South Dakota border when he and his brother were spotted in the pickup truck he was driving in Lyon County four days after the shooting of Scheff.
Scheff is recovering from the wounds, but authorities believe he would have bled to death had he not been found by a passerby shortly after the shooting.
Derek Hexum knew something was amiss when he picked up his brother alongside that roadway in the dark of night. “I did not know exactly what he did, but I had reason to believe he committed a crime because of how he acted,’’ Derek Hexum told the court when offering his guilty plea on Monday.
He told the judge that he and his brother had met Scheff near the river in Granite Falls on the night of July 18 and drove him toward the casino. His truck developed mechanical problems while on Minnesota Highway 23, and they pulled over.
Hexum said his brother and Scheff took off on foot toward the home of a relative of Scheff’s. Hexum said he opened the hood of his pickup, discovered the battery cable was loose, and restarted the truck. He was parked along the highway shoulder when his brother called for him to pick him up, probably no more than 15 minutes after the two had left the pickup, according to the testimony.
Hexum said he drove about one-quarter of a mile to the site where his brother waited and they drove away.
In response to questions from Yellow Medicine County Assistant Attorney Stacy Vinberg, Hexum acknowledged that he realized Scheff was no longer with his brother when he reached the site.
He said he believed his brother had been involved with a drug crime involving the victim.
Hexum said he believed his brother may have committed a crime “by the way he was acting.’’ He said his brother was “acting paranoid,’’ and was frequently glancing backwards. “I think he was scared too,’’ he said.
The felony charge carries a possible sentence of three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. With no prior criminal history, sentencing guidelines call for Hexum to receive a stayed sentence of one year and one day if the guilty plea is accepted, according to information provided during the hearing.
Judge Van Hon allowed Hexum to be released on his personal recognizance but ordered that he have no contact with his brother and several individuals who could be witnesses in the case against his brother.
The judge also denied a request by Hexum to have an opportunity to say goodbye to his brother at the Yellow Medicine County Jail.
Devin Hexum remains in custody there on charges of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault.