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Man imprisoned for fleeing police from Atwater to Grove City, Minnesota, where he crashed stolen pickup

Marvin Franco Morales, 26, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 17 months in prison for fleeing police. Morales led law enforcement on a high-speed chase after he was reported to have stolen a vehicle from the east edge of Willmar in 2021.

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WILLMAR โ€” A St. Paul man who pleaded guilty to leading police on a high-speed chase from Atwater to Grove City โ€” where he crashed a pickup truck reported stolen from Willmar โ€” has been sentenced to prison.

Marvin Franco Morales, 26, was sentenced in Kandiyohi County District Court to serve 17 months. He received credit for three days served.

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Marvin Franco morales
Contributed / Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Morales pleaded guilty to a felony count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. In exchange, a felony charge of motor vehicle theft and a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving were dismissed.

Under Minnesota law, offenders are required to serve at least two-thirds of a sentence in custody and may be allowed to serve the remaining time on supervised release. According to the state Department of Corrections website, Morales' expected release date from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud is Feb. 5, 2024,

According to the criminal complaint, the owner of a Dodge Ram pickup and another man observed Morales enter the pickup and drive away during the morning of Sept. 29, 2021. The owner was working at the time in the 2700 block of U.S. Highway 12 on the east edge of Willmar.

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The owner and the other man got into another vehicle and began following Morales eastbound on Highway 12 as the report was made to law enforcement.

An Atwater police officer located Morales just outside the city of Atwater and began pursuit. Morales passed a semitrailer on the right-hand shoulder at high speed.

During the pursuit the officer saw Morales driving eastbound in the westbound lane of traffic, nearly causing head-on collisions. The two vehicles traveled between speeds of 65 and 100 miles per hour, according to the complaint.

Before entering Grove City, Morales attempted to turn southbound on Minnesota Highway 4 but could not maintain the turn because of the vehicleโ€™s speed, according to the complaint. Morales hit the railroad tracks and crashed into a fence.

The officer arrested Morales, who said he was sorry and that he was done.

The pickup owner verified all his personal property was still in the vehicle and estimated the value of the stolen vehicle at $22,000.

Dale Morin is a reporter with the West Central Tribune. He covers public safety and breaking news beats.

Dale can be reached at dmorin@wctrib.com or by phone 320-214-4368.
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