Wrenshall man sentenced for accident that killed friend, injured othersSt. Louis County District Court Judge Heather Sweetland sentenced Jeremy Warren Shea, 22, on two counts of vehicular homicide Friday morning for his actions early on the morning of June 3 that led to a horrific accident in the Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth.
By: John Lundy, Pine Journal
St. Louis County District Court Judge Heather Sweetland sentenced Jeremy Warren Shea, 22, on two counts of vehicular homicide Friday morning for his actions early on the morning of June 3 that led to a horrific accident in the Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth.
Shea was with friends and fellow Wrenshall High School alumni Tim Stephenson, Samuel Rodman and Jeremy Nelson at a bar at about 1 a.m. June 3 when they got into his 2008 Honda Accord. Shea, who had been drinking, accelerated to more than 90 mph on State Highway 23. Within a half mile he failed to negotiate a right-hand curve and crossed the median, and the car flipped several times before coming to rest against trees.
All four were seriously injured, and Stephenson died soon after at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center. Rodman was the most seriously injured among the others, suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Shea apologized to everyone in the courtroom just before the sentencing.
“I’m sorry,” Shea said over and over, his voice breaking. “I’m so sorry. I take responsibility for what I did.”
Jeff Stephenson, whose son Tim was killed because of Shea’s high-speed, drunken driving, rose to his feet, took two quick steps toward Shea and put his arms around the younger man. They held each other in a long embrace, Shea sobbing.
Sweetland sentenced Shea to 5½ years in prison, but stayed execution of that sentence provided he follows the conditions of his 10-year probation. Under terms of his probation, Shea must spend two years at the Northeast Regional Correctional Center in Saginaw, or at the St. Louis County Jail if he’s not accepted at NERCC. His time could be shortened for good behavior.
Sweetland ordered that Shea be taken into custody immediately and begin his sentence.
When reading their impact statements, several members of victims’ families asked that Shea be sent to NERCC but not to a Minnesota Department of Corrections prison.
Mardy Rodman, Samuel’s mother, talked about the effects of his injuries. His ability to learn and his emotional maturity have been affected, she said.
She also said all four families have remained friends. “I’m not angry with Jeremy, and I have forgiven him,” she said. “I feel that a period of incarceration is a just and merciful punishment for him. … I believe a long probation period would be beneficial for Jeremy.”
But she thought Shea should be held at NERCC, not in state prison, she said.
Outside of the courtroom, Jeff Stephenson said he was satisfied with the sentence. He explained his feelings when he embraced Shea. “We love the children,” Stephenson said. “We don’t always love what they’re doing.”
John Linder of Superior, who has been one of Shea’s mentors with the Teen Challenge program since the accident, said he believes Shea is remorseful.
Shea has spoken several times to a middle-school youth group at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Superior, telling them what he had done and explaining the consequences of his actions, Linder said.
“Jeremy is a young man with a lot of promise,” Linder said. “He’s got some stuff to go through now. You can’t whitewash what happened. But we can’t just throw Jeremy away either and say he’s useless, because he is not.”