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Over the objections of grieving loved ones, an Otsego man will not go to prison for being drunk when an ATV crash claimed the life of the 12-year-old boy who was riding with him.

Austin M. Copsey, 37, was sentenced Tuesday in Wright County District Court after pleading guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the rollover wreck on July 16 that killed Jesse Hooper, also of Otsego. Copsey entered what is known as an Alford plea, meaning he maintained his innocence but acknowledged there was ample evidence to convict him.

Judge Kari Willis followed the terms of the plea agreement and set aside the four-year sentence called for under state guidelines and ordered Copsey to serve six months on work release and another six months on electronic home monitoring in 20-day segments yearly starting on the anniversary of Jesse's death.

Copsey will also be on probation for 10 years, when he must complete 100 hours of community work service annually.

Jesse's family has long opposed the terms of the sentence as agreed upon by the County Attorney's Office and Copsey's lawyer.

"I am objecting to the whole plea deal," Anthony Hooper, Jesse's father, said during a court hearing last month.

County Attorney Brian Lutes told the Star Tribune shortly after sentencing that he agreed to the downward departure "due to a genuine dispute about ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was the driver of the ATV at the time of the crash."

Jesse had been spotted several times that day operating the two-seat ATV in the neighborhood, according to Lutes' downward departure motion filed last week. Also, Lutes' filing continued, law enforcement found "no witnesses to establish who was driving at the time of the crash" and noted that Copsey's concussion from the wreck may have impaired his memory.

The criminal complaint, filed three days after the crash, pointed out that "the defendant could not recall the events of what happened. Defendant went back and forth telling [a deputy] he was driving but other times saying he was not."

Sherwood McKinnis, Copsey's attorney, said his client "turned around [during sentencing] and looked at all the family and said he was very, very sorry. He accepted responsibility and recognized their loss."

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. A test of his blood taken from him about two hours after the crash came back with a reading of 0.167%, court records showed.

Copsey's criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for drunken driving, drug possession and operating a motorcycle with insufficient lights, according to court records.

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 p.m. Several mailboxes "were scattered around the crash scene," the complaint read.

A witness who heard the crash said video from his security camera showed the ATV rolling over several times. Emergency responders declared Jesse dead at the scene.

Deputies said Copsey's speech was slurred, and he acknowledged that he had been drinking, according to the complaint.

Copsey had left the party to pick up his daughter and return to the gathering, authorities say.

Along with his father, Jesse's survivors include his mother, Kristi Hooper, and brother Luke.

Jesse's online obituary said that he 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."

In lieu of flowers, the family directed donations in Jesse's honor to Northwest Metro Robotics.

"My great nephew, Jesse, and his family have not received justice," Kathy Brown said in an email Tuesday night to the Star Tribune. "I am just livid with the laws of Minnesota that a drunk man can kill a child and get his life handed back to him with little punishment."

Brown said she is "praying God can forgive him because I'm struggling doing so."