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Afton woman convicted of vehicular homicide given year in jail

The Afton woman who was the driver in a 2010 Washington County crash that killed one of her passengers was sentenced last month to a year in jail.

Alicia Rae Haupert, 21, was spared a four-year prison term in the case, where she was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide. She was sentenced Sept. 16 after pleading guilty to the charge in June.

According to a criminal complaint, Haupert was driving the morning of Jan. 29, 2010, when she lost control of a vehicle she was operating in May Township. A Minnesota State Patrol trooper arrived on the scene to find the vehicle had crashed into a power pole in a ditch.

Haupert and a friend escaped the crash with minor injuries, though 20-year-old Andrea Zimmerman remained trapped inside the vehicle, where rescue workers found the Stillwater resident dead.

Haupert admitted to drinking a mix of vodka and energy drinks the previous night; troopers said her blood-alcohol level after the crash registered .108. Minnesota's legal limit is .08.

Zimmerman and Haupert had been best friends, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said. He said that relationship complicated matters in the legal world, where Zimmerman's family requested that criminal charges not be filed in the case.

"I don't relish sending a young lady to prison," he said. "I don't get off on that."

Orput said the Zimmerman family's request didn't fall on deaf ears, but prosecutors were "still obligated to follow the law." He said the close friendship didn't negate the crime.

"What if they were cousins? What if they were second cousins?" Orput said. "Where do you draw the lines?"

In addition to the jail term, the sentence calls for Haupert to spend 10 years on probation. If she fails to follow terms of probation - which include complying with an ignition interlock program, abstaining from alcohol and attending a Mothers Against Drunken Driving panel - a judge could execute a four-year prison term.

In that sense, Haupert caught a break, Orput said.

"(A judge) can easily send her to prison," he said. "It's a last chance."

Terms of Haupert's jail sentence allow her to serve on work release and Sentencing to Service.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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