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Repeat drunken driver gets prison for slamming into building in Zimmerman, killing delivery worker

October 11, 2018

A 65-year-old man with a drunken driving history was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for slamming into a business on the northwest edge of the Twin Cities, killing one person and injuring several others inside.

Robert A. Johnson, 65, was given the term of 6andfrac34; years Wednesday in Sherburne County District Court in connection with driving his pickup through a wall of Reliant Systems, in the 12600 block of Fremont Avenue in Zimmerman, on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2017.

Johnson, convicted in late June of criminal vehicular homicide and 13 other related counts, will serve roughly four years in prison and the balance on supervised release. Restitution of nearly $190,000 on behalf of the victims or survivors was also ordered.

Daniel M. Elliott, 51, of Hamburg, was killed. Elliott was there making a delivery at the time.

Johnson, who has two previous drunken driving convictions on his record, had a blood alcohol content at the scene of .103 percent, above the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.

He told a sheriffs deputy he had at least two mixed drinks before leaving the American Legion hall. Law enforcement officers located a near-empty bottle of whiskey in the pickups center console, the charges said.

Johnson also said the accelerator stuck before the crash, according to the criminal complaint. The crash left the pickup 30 to 40 feet into the equipment inspection business building, according to the Sheriffs Office.

Other injured employees identified as being inside the building were Kim Ann Mills of Anoka; Heidi Jo Olerich of Zimmerman; and Michael Wayne Milano of Zimmerman. An unidentified fifth victim was treated and released.

At sentencing, Johnson argued for probation, which would have been below state sentencing guidelines. Judge Mary Yunker chose the maximum term under state guidelines.

A great loss was suffered by the families and the community due to the actions of one person, County Attorney Kathleen Heaney said in a statement Thursday. We recognize that the court decision ... will never offset the loss. We only hope that the decision will allow the families some small solace.

Paul Walsh 612-673-4482

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