A 35-year-old man has been given an eight-year sentence for being extremely drunk when he floored the accelerator on his pickup truck and caused a collision that killed the other driver.
Sterling R. Haukom, of Rochester, was sentenced Monday in Olmsted County District in connection with the crash on Feb. 23, 2021, at SE. 8th Avenue and 12th Street that killed 18-year-old Erika X. Cruz of Rochester.
Haukom pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in December without any agreement between the defense and prosecution about what his punishment should be.
With credit for time in jail since his arrest, Haukom is expected to serve slightly more than four years of his term in prison and the balance on supervised release.
The eight-year term from Judge Jacob Allen is double what is called for in state sentencing guidelines and was imposed despite many letters of support for Haukom, described by friends and others as a person of faith, and a locally well known singer-songwriter who loved his job with the Boys and Girls Club.
Cruz, of Rochester, graduated from Mayo High School in 2020 and was studying exercise science at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul at the time of the crash, which occurred about two blocks from her home.
In granting the prosecution's request for a longer sentence, Allen explained in a court filing in March that Haukom's blood alcohol content at the time was 0.25%, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota. Haukom admitted that he had about 15 drinks of beer and whiskey that night.
The judge also pointed out that Haukom acknowledged "smashing on the gas" while driving on 8th Avenue and hitting Cruz's car at 66 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. The light for Cruz was green, according to court records.
Haukom's state of mind, namely anger, in the moments leading up to the crash also caught the judge's attention.
Having been kicked out of a bar for getting into an argument, Haukom was upset and admitted to law enforcement, "[I] stopped caring ... about myself, and then I stopped caring about anybody."