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Second appeal, same sentence for man convicted in Watson, Minnesota, crash that killed 20-year-old passenger

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a 68-month prison sentence for Braxton Anderson, of Montevideo, for his conviction of criminal vehicular homicide in the Aug. 6, 2019, crash that killed Brittany Lynn Schulz, 20, of Appleton.

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MONTEVIDEO — A second sentencing, and now a second appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, has delivered the same result for the man convicted of criminal vehicular homicide in the crash that took the life of Brittany Lynn Schulz, 20, of Appleton, on Aug. 6, 2019.

Braxton Anderson
Braxton Anderson
Minnesota Department of Corrections

Braxton Monte Anderson, 37, must continue to serve a 68-month prison sentence for his Chippewa County conviction of criminal vehicular homicide, the Court of Appeals ruled in a decision released Monday.

Anderson had successfully appealed his initial 68-month sentence. District Judge Dwayne Knutsen had sentenced Anderson based on a presentence investigation indicating a crime severity level of eight and a criminal history score of two. A 68-month prison sentence was the midpoint of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines range.

It was discovered that the actual criminal history score ascribed to Anderson should have been one. Anderson appealed the first sentence on that basis, and the Court of Appeals remanded the case back to Chippewa County District Court for a new sentencing.

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The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
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A hearing was conducted, and District Judge Keith Helgeson re-sentenced Anderson to 68 months in prison based on the criminal history score of one. The sentencing guidelines range was 50-69 months, with a midpoint sentence of 58 months, according to the Court of Appeals.

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In this latest decision, the Court of Appeals stated that the District Court is not obligated to impose a sentence at the midpoint of the sentencing range simply because the original sentencing judge did so.

The court also noted that the second sentencing was within the range of the sentencing guidelines. The Court of Appeals reverses a sentence only when a district court abuses its “great discretion,” and it did not do so, the court stated in its decision.

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The court also found that it did not matter that the district judge who re-sentenced Anderson had not presided over his trial. The district judge’s sentencing discretion on remand is the same.

“The district court, having conducted a comprehensive sentencing hearing on remand, determined — like the original sentencing judge — that 68 months’ imprisonment was appropriate under the circumstances,” stated the Court of Appeals in its decision.
At the time of the crash, Anderson was driving a 1995 Saturn when he made a left turn in front of a 2007 Cadillac Escalade at the parking lot to the Goose Bar in Watson. He was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time, according to the criminal complaint.

Schulz was a passenger in his vehicle. She died as she was being transferred to a medical helicopter at the scene.

A 20-year-old woman died in a crash in August in Watson, and the man who was driving the vehicle now faces charges of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. He is currently in the Chippewa County Jail.

Prosecutors had sought an 80-month prison sentence.

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 Minnesota Department of Corrections website, Anderson's expected release date from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault is Oct. 23, 2023.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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