A 37-year-old Otsego man faces no more than a year in jail for being drunk when he crashed an ATV after leaving a weekend neighborhood party. His 12-year-old passenger died in the crash.
Austin M. Copsey pleaded guilty Tuesday in Wright County District Court to criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the rollover wreck on July 16, 2022 that killed Jesse Hooper, of Otsego.
A preliminary breath test taken soon after the crash found Copsey had a blood alcohol content of 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota, according to the criminal complaint.
The plea agreement between prosecutors and the defense calls for 10 years probation, a four-year sentence to be set aside and for Copsey to serve no more than a year in jail. The County Attorney's Office has indicated it will argue for six months in jail, while the defense has said it intends to pursue less than that.
Copsey agreed to enter what is called an Alford plea, meaning he maintains his innocence but acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence to win a conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2.
Sheriff's deputies said they found Copsey's side-by-side ATV in a ditch in the 14100 block of NE. 78th Street shortly after 10 that summer night. Several mailboxes "were scattered around the crash scene," the complaint read.
A witness who reported hearing the crash said video from his security camera showed the ATV rolling over several times. Emergency responders declared the 12-year-old dead at the scene.
Copsey had left a party to pick up his daughter and return to the gathering, authorities say.
Along with this case, Copsey's criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for drunken driving, drug possession and operating a motorcycle with insufficient lights, according to court records.
Jesse's survivors include his father, Elk River firefighter Tony Hooper, mother Kristi and brother Luke.
Jesse's online obituary said "[H]e was happy to join you alongside what you were doing and quick to offer his help. In short time, he became the neighborhood fix-it kid."