Man accused of hit-and-run death is back in court system
A man who was civilly committed to a psychiatric hospital after being accused of running over and killing a rest stop area worker appeared in Carlton County Court last week.
Gregory Allen Scherber, 55, was found to be mentally incapable of standing trial in September and was civilly committed to Anoka Regional Treatment Center — a secure state-run facility — on an order of “restore to capacity.”
He had a review hearing Dec. 17 after a psychologist’s report stated his mental condition was stabilized and he is able to participate in his own defense.
County Attorney Thom Pertler said Judge Robert Macaulay issued an order for further “Rule 20” evaluation at the request of Scherber’s attorney, Kevin Cornwall.
Pertler explained that there are two types of Rule 20 motions, regarding a defendant’s mental health. Now that Scherber has “been restored to capacity,” now a mental health professional will be asked “to attempt to ascertain whether [Scherber] was deficient or capable mentally at the time the offense was committed,” Pertler said.
Scherber was charged June 21 with criminal vehicular homicide and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, both felonies, in the June 19 hit-and-run death of Mahtowa rest stop janitor Greg “Blackie” Blackburn, who also worked as a newspaper carrier for several local newspapers.
According to the complaint, witnesses at the rest area said the pickup was at one end of the vacant semitrailer parking lot and accelerated rapidly toward the other end of the lot where Blackburn was picking up garbage.
“The defendant’s pickup truck sped through the parking lot and over concrete medians as he approached the victim and ultimately struck the victim,” the complaint stated. “The witnesses reported hearing not only the squealing of the tires as the vehicle accelerated rapidly, but also described the pickup truck thumping as it went over the concrete median separators and ultimately the sound of the defendant’s truck striking the victim.”
Soon began a chase that would span nearly 25 miles. A Minnesota State Trooper in the vicinity saw a pickup truck matching the description of the vehicle from the rest area traveling fast northbound on I-35 and gave chase, using his lights and siren to attempt to pull over the vehicle, but the truck (driven by Scherber) continued to flee toward Duluth, at one point passing traffic on the shoulder in a construction zone, hitting barrels and cones as it did so. Eventually another trooper was able to make contact and spin the truck out of control at the intersection of Stebner and Arrowhead roads, where it came to rest in a ditch, the complaint said.
Troopers immediately exited their squad cars and told Scherber to get out of the vehicle. As the officers took Scherber into custody, the report states he was agitated and yelling obscenities at the troopers, indicating the Native Mob gang was after him and the FBI had hung up on him earlier in the day when he called them regarding his complaints about being followed.
Scherber’s address is listed as Duluth on the criminal complaint, but he stated he lives in Minneapolis during his initial hearing. Scherber is an honorably discharged Navy veteran, who is “disabled because of mental illness,” his first attorney said.
Scherber remains in custody now at the Carlton County jail, pending his next Rule 20 evaluation. Another review hearing is set for Jan. 23.