Sep 30

Charges dropped against mother in son’s fatal hit-and-run charge

Charges dropped against mother in son’s fatal hit-and-run charge

Star Tribune – 2011-09-30

Updated: September 29, 2011 – 10:25 PM

The Hennepin County attorney’s office on Thursday dropped charges against a woman accused of telling her son to get rid of a car connected to a fatal Dinkytown hit-and-run in April.

Diane Bakdash, 66, of Roseville, a former nurse, is now exonerated of the felony and misdemeanor charges filed against her in connection with the April 15 crash that killed University of Minnesota student Benjamin Van Handel.

Her son, Timothy Bakdash, is accused of first-degree murder. Authorities say he ran down a group of U students, including Van Handel, as they walked home from a bar.

A felony charge of being an accomplice after the fact accused Diane Bakdash of telling her son to “get rid of the car that night.” It was dropped last month, when she was charged with obstructing the legal process or arrest, a misdemeanor.

In Thursday’s dismissal, the Hennepin County attorney’s office said Timothy Bakdash would testify that Diane Bakdash thought her son struck a deer that night and that her statements stemmed from his negotiating the sale of a vehicle.

The state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Diane Bakdash knew otherwise, according to the dismissal signed by County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Diane Bakdash’s attorney, Ryan Garry, said his client is looking forward to getting her life back together. She was fired from her job as a nurse practitioner and asked to stop practicing by the Minnesota Board of Nursing. She also was shunned by her friends, he said, and asked to leave the gym where she was a member.

“I think she wants to put this behind her and move on,” Garry said. “This tells the public that this is an innocent woman charged with a crime she didn’t commit, simple as that, and thankfully we had a prosecutor who recognized that and decided to dismiss the charges without making it go to trial.”

Timothy Bakdash is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 15.

Abby Simons, Star Tribune • 612-673-4921

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