Hegstrom found guilty after five hours

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/22/96.

It only took the jury five hours to decide Scott Hegstrom, 37, New London, was guilty on all counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the January 1995 deaths of three Paynesville residents. Killed in the rear-end accident were Milo and Zelpha Brossard and Iva Burr. Delmar Brossard was seriously injured in the accident.

The trial against Hegstrom started Monday, Oct. 7, in Kandiyohi County District Court before Judge Donald Spilseth, who last year threw out the case, saying the law was unclear about how much methamphetamine it takes to intoxicate a person.

The Brossard and Burr families were in court from the beginning. ãWe can finally put the accident behind us and start healing,ä Jerry Burr, Paynesville, said. ãTears of joy and relief were shed by many in the courtroom as the verdict was read.ä Donald (Skeeter) Brossard said the defense lawyer Bob Zohlmann tried to make it look like the family was after some insurance money. ãWe were only after justice, and that Hegstrom be held accountable for what he did,ä he added.

The family felt the testimony of Hegstromâs ex-girlfriend, Jean Gregory, made the difference in the trial Monday. On Friday, she had testified for the defense. ãSomething happened over the weekend to change her mind to testify for our side,ä Brossard said. The ex-girlfriend had testified on Monday that Hegstrom had snorted meth five times in the two weeks before the crash. At the accident scene, Gregory had to wake up Hegstrom when officers gathered around his pickup truck to photograph it.

During the trial, Zohlmann questioned the officers several times about why they didnât investigate an area 200 to 300 feet away from the accident site. He stressed the accident took place near a driveway where the Brossard vehicle had pulled out from after visiting a relative. Delmar Brossard testified they never stopped to visit anyone enroute to Willmar. Zohlmann had tried to have Gregoryâs testimony barred on Monday, questioning her credibility. He had introduced only one witness during the trial. He told jurors he had planned to do more, but was able to accomplish what he needed through cross-examination.

ãThe jurors saw through Zohlmannâs ploys. In his closing statement, he tried to turn everything around. The evidence was clear, the truck had front-end damage while the car sustained rear-end damage,ä Donald said.

Zohlmann even asked the jury be polled to make sure all agreed on the verdict. ãMy heart was pumping. We (the family) had sat around all afternoon waiting for the jury to come back. At 5:30 p.m. we were called back into the courtroom to hear the verdict,ä Donald added. ãIt had been a long week for everyone involved. Everyone was happy with the outcome. The families goal was to see that Hegstrom was accountable for what happened and to get him off the streets to protect others before he killed someone else. It was too late for us but if we can help save another life, it was all worth it,ä he added.

Kevin Burr said he plans on being present in court when Hegstrom is sentenced. ãI want to talk to the judge and Hegstrom to make them understand what they have put my family through by their actions,ä he added. ãIâm glad we were able to get the law changed. We were able to give the police something to fight with. We understand the police did nothing wrong in our case. As a family, we had to fight for our rights. Hegstrom ran into the wrong people. I wonât let this go, we as a family demand justice. If we donât, how are we going to make others accountable for their crimes,ä Kevin added.

Kevin said what hurt him the most were the allegations they were friends with all the police involved and we were out for the money. ãWhat money? We werenât brought up to think in corrupt terms, but to do the right thing. We were never allowed to heal because of Hegstrom. It has been a long ordeal and will never be forgotten,ä he said.

Judge Spilseth ordered a presentence investigation to check into Hegstromâs background before deciding upon his sentence. Hegstrom will appear in Kandiyohi County Court on Friday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. to be sentenced. Guidelines call for four years in prison if he has no serious criminal history. Zohlmann has filed for a post-trial hearing which will be held at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13. In the meantime, Hegstrom sits in an Anoka County Jail awaiting the start of trial on Nov. 18 on federal drug charges. Hegstrom and four others face allegations they imported and distributed methamphetamine from California.

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