Get our free mobile app

Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester man charged with killing a local teenager in a drunk driving crash earlier this year today entered a so-called "straight plea" during a hearing this afternoon in Olmsted County Court.

35-year-old Sterling Haukom entered a guilty plea to a criminal vehicular homicide charge for driving while intoxicated when his pickup smashed into a car driven by 18-year-old Erika Cruz. The crash occurred on the evening of February 23rd at the intersection of 12th Street and 8th Avenue Southeast near the Lincoln K-8 School. The victim, a recent graduate of Mayo High School, later died from her injuries.

Erika Cruz car accident gofundme Rochester Mn
Erika Cruz via GoFundMe
loading...

The criminal complaint against Haukom says he told investigators he had consumed about 15 drinks at a bar and a blood test measured his blood-alcohol-concentration at .25, or more than three times the legal limit, following the deadly collision. Olmsted County prosecutors previously requested an aggravated sentence in the case, noting the data stored on the so-called "black box" in Haukom's pickup shows the gas pedal was at 100 percent for approximately 14 seconds leading up to the collision and indicated the vehicle was traveling at more than 60 miles per hour on a residential street.

Erika Cru
Erika Cru
loading...

Because Haukom entered a "straight plea," there is no recommended sentence attached. He has opted to have the judge in the case consider whether an aggravated sentence is warranted and then have the issue argued during a sentencing hearing following a presentence investigation. The maximum sentence faced by Haukom is 10 years in prison.

$25,000 Rewards Offered in Two Rochester Cold Case Murder Investigations

The Rochester Police Department is hoping to identify those responsible for the deaths of April Sorenson and Robert Volgmann.