On Monday, they started the pre-trial stuff for the trial of Chelsea Haynes. Monday morning was spent discussing what images were allowable (the defense attorney tried to argue that no images should be allowed. That didn’t fly.), if the jury or the judge would determine sentencing and the aggravating factors in the case, and other legal stuff. I wasn’t allowed to be there.
Monday afternoon, they started jury selection. I was asked to pass along the request that friends and family not be present for the jury selection process. The prosecutor didn’t want it to look like we were trying to sway the jury selection. So, my people who were there proceeded to not be there.
When I spoke to DeAna, the Victim’s Advocate, on Monday afternoon, she said that we’d probably be getting going late Tuesday maybe early Wednesday. Tuesday morning I was sleeping in when she called to tell me that I should plan to be at the courthouse at noon.
Mid-morning, DeAna called again to tell me that jury selection was complete and how fast could I and my parents get to the courthouse. It took me 45 minutes, including changing clothes and getting to the lightrail (though I did braid my hair on the train). We arrive just as the court called a recess.
Jason’s mother, my mother, and I went upstairs to meet with the prosecutor. He said that Haynes was suddenly willing to consider a plea deal, but that he wanted our input as to whether or not we’d want to let her plea. He had already said that once the first witness testifies, the plea deal is no longer on the table. He left open the option of another plea deal, but this one was done once trial started. We gave our agreement and he informed the defense attorney that they plea deal was still on the table.
An hour later, we went back to court. Or rather, everyone else went to go sit in court. I sat in the window of a padded room and stared across the skyline of this city. It really is a lovely view from up there. (For those not following in detail, I am not allowed to be present for the trial, because it might skew my testimony.)
A few minutes later, DeAna came to get me. She said Haynes was likely to plead and I should go into the courtroom so I could be present when that happened.
Half an hour after opening statements were supposed to start, Haynes pled guilty to one count of gross negligence in operation of a motor vehicle resulting in vehicular homicide and one count of gross negligence in operation of a motor vehicle resulting in greater bodily harm. Or put in simpler terms, she pled guilty to two felonies, vehicular homicide and vehicular injury. One felony for killing Jason, one felony for injuring me.
The judge and the lawyers talked some more and made sure she understood the rights she was waiving and that this was a permanent decision. Then it was done.
On Wednesday, September 26th at 11 am, Chelsea Haynes will be sentenced to 48 months in prison. At her sentencing, I will read another Victim’s Impact Statement. A few other people will likely read statements as well. Then she will go to Shakopee and spend two thirds of her sentence incarcerated. The last third she will serve on probation. Because that went so well the first time.
The sentencing is a public hearing. This is the thing to show up to. At Meekins’ sentencing, we filled every seat in the courtroom. I want to need a larger courtroom.