Failure to incarcerate, MN edition

When I began practicing law, I occasionally had to sit in court and wait my turn to argue my case while the judge sentenced defendants who pleaded guilty to various offenses. I drew the conclusion from what I saw that it was quite difficult to get yourself sent to prison. You almost had to work at it. It was a revelation to me.

That was a while back, but things have not gotten better in the meantime. What we have here is failure to incarcerate (or an under-incarceration problem, as Paul puts it). And we have a few other basic law enforcement problems as well.

Take, for example, the Star Tribune story reported by Paul Walsh. The story runs in today’s paper with the headline: “Charge: Drunk driver with revoked license kills girlfriend in west metro crash, tries to blame her.” Subhead: “His license was revoked; he is now a fugitive.”

Walsh reports that police are looking for a man whom they know quite well. He is a walking advertisement for criminal justice reform of the kind that would incapacitate offenders regardless of the effect on racial disparities. I am an advocate of such reform, but this story virtually defies belief:

A 27-year-old Crystal man who has repeatedly driven with a revoked license was doing just that when he crashed a car while drunk in Eden Prairie, then tried to blame his girlfriend for the wreck as she lay dead at the scene, according to authorities.

Angus J. Anderson was charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the death last June of 23-year-old Azirea T. Sheley of Hopkins.

Sheley was thrown from her car over a guardrail and died at the scene of the rollover crash, the flyover ramp that leads from eastbound Hwy. 212 to eastbound Hwy. 62. Anderson was treated for his injuries and is now a fugitive.

Anderson’s driving history in Minnesota shows at least 15 convictions for driving after having his license taken away by the state. His license status was revoked at the time of the crash and remains so, the state Department of Public Safety said Monday.

His blood alcohol content soon after the crash was .117 percent, above the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.

Among Sheley’s survivors was a daughter, who is now 4 years old.

Savannah Andrews said Monday that her sister needed a ride because her vehicle had recently been impounded for a reason the sister didn’t know.

“If she would have called one of us, we could have gotten her and she would be alive right now,” Andrews said.

Andrews said her sisters and Anderson were more friends than a couple, as he portrayed.

“He’s a habitual liar,” Andrews said. “They met through mutual friends about a year or so ago and have hung out off an on.”

According to the criminal complaint, Anderson told officers at Hennepin County Medical Center that he picked up Sheley at an Eden Prairie hotel and she was driving at the time of the wreck, however, a witness said she saw Anderson behind the wheel.

Also, DNA tests found that blood on the driver’s side door inside the car and the driver’s seat belonged to Anderson. Her blood was not found on the driver’s side.

The complaint spelled out law enforcement’s concerns about Anderson’s propensity to run from the law and the need for a high bail amount upon his arrest.

Along with this case, he has a warrant active in Hennepin County on a disorderly conduct charge. When at the hospital after the crash, he tried to leave against medical advice. Also, he’s had seven warrants issued by courts in the past three year for failing to appear as ordered.

Anderson’s criminal history in the state when not driving includes convictions for robbery, theft, domestic assault, disorderly conduct and drug possession.

This story was originally posted online yesterday afternoon at 2:35 p.m. (that’s the version I have above). It was updated last night at 9:25 p.m. I take it that Anderson is still at large. I’m not sure what to recommend if you see him, but I am sure the authorities would like to apprehend him. He is a murderer, a threat to public safety, and an embarrassment to the system.

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