Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Kenyon man sentenced for drunken driving death

RED WING — His eyes tearing up, his voice choking with emotion, Chad Lexvold repeatedly apologized to the family of Jacob Baalson, who was killed in a crash on March 19, 2011, because Lexvold was driving drunk.

"I loved Jacob to the bottom of my heart," he said Monday in Goodhue County District Court. "I'm truly sorry for what I did."

Moments later, Judge Kevin Mark sentenced Lexvold, 20, of rural Kenyon, to 365 days in jail. He also put Lexvold on probation for 10 years and ordered him to give at least three talks a year about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Lexvold entered a Norgaard plea on Dec. 22 to three counts of criminal vehicular homicide or operation because others were injured in the crash, which happened at night on a foggy road in Holden Township. Five related charges were dropped. A Norgaard plea means a defendant essentially acknowledges guilt but can't recall the facts because he was intoxicated.

Mother responds


The typical sentence for criminal vehicular homicide is four years, but because Lexvold had no prior arrests and is amenable to alcohol treatment, the amount of jail time was reduced, though the length of probation was increased.

The sentencing was emotional because Lexvold and Baalson were good friends.

Baalson's mother, Jennifer Baalson, said the two were close and that "my heart goes out to Chad. I think of Chad as Jacob's brother. My heart breaks for him as it would for my own son. I can only imagine what Chad will go through for the rest of his life."

At the same time, she said, there has to be justice, and she didn't think a year in jail would be enough. It sends the wrong message to the community and other youths, Baalson said. "Punishment is supposed to be punishment," she said.

As she spoke in court, two women held collages of pictures of her son, and a big portrait of him was on an easel. It was hard just to find the words, Baalson said. "Where do you begin, where do you end, will it ever end?" she said.

Her son was killed on the day he was told he was going to graduate that spring, she said. As she spoke, many in the audience, both friends or relatives of Baalson and Lexvold, cried.

His sister, Heather Baalson said her brother's death left her angry and depressed for no obvious reason. The only way to talk to him now is at his grave, she said.

Attorneys respond


Assistant County Attorney Erin Kuester said no one would be happy with the sentence because no sentence can't bring Baalson back. The plea agreement lets Lexvold speak in the schools, she said.

Lexvold's attorney, Thomas Gorman, said Lexvold is remorseful and has the backing of his family. "He made a terrible mistake," he said.

And then it was Lexvold's turn to speak. He told the two families of his sorrow. "There is not one day that goes by that I do not think about what I did," he said.

The judge noted the tears and said "there are clearly no winners here." He told Lexvold, "You have to pay for your mistake." Everyone wants to see Lexvold move forward, he said, and part of that will be speaking to other youths.

With that, the sentencing was over, and Lexvold began serving up to a year in jail.

What To Read Next
Get Local