Court asked to toss test results

FAIRMONT – A hearing scheduled Monday for a woman facing multiple charges of criminal vehicular homicide was canceled, but the case is moving forward.

The defense attorney for Alicia Tapia has requested a contested probable cause hearing, hoping to suppress evidence including results from a blood test indicating Tapia was heavily intoxicated at the time of the crash that killed her 6-year-old son.

Tapia was driving on Highway 4 north of Dunnell with her three children in the vehicle on the morning of March 3 when she lost control and the vehicle rolled.

Two of her three children were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the vehicle. Her 6-year-old son was killed while her 4-year-old son suffered serious injury. Her third child was wearing her seat belt and suffered minor physical injury.

Tapia’s attorney, Darci Bentz, argues in documents filed in Martin County District Court that Tapia’s blood test was obtained without a search warrant, and thus violates her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Bentz also filed a motion to suppress other evidence, such as any statements Tapia may have given, any other evidence obtained by search and seizure, or any form of electronic or mechanical eavesdropping.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have filed notice that they plan to seek aggravated sentencing, or an upward departure in sentencing guidelines, if Tapia is found guilty.

“If convicted, there is a right to a jury trial to see if she should receive an aggravated sentence,” explained Martin County Assistant District Attorney Mike Trushenski. “But to do that, we need to file that intent during the pre-trial hearings phase.”

In Trushenski’s filing, he argues that the victims – Tapia’s young children – were particularly vulnerable because of their age.

“Because Alicia Tapia was their mother, the children had no choice but to get into her vehicle even though she was intoxicated,” Trushenski wrote.

The probable cause hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Tapia faces eight felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide and two second-degree counts of driving while impaired. She remains in custody in Faribault County.