ISANTI COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - An Isanti County man will serve 162 days in jail for the leaving the scene of an accident that killed a teenage boy. It’s a case that was only charged after police and prosecutors overlooked evidence uncovered by the victim’s family.
In court Adam Maki, 32, offered a barely audible apology.
“I wish I could go back and change that night,” said Maki.
But the family of Antonio DeMeules, 15, offered heartbreaking testimonials to a packed courtroom about the boy who on September 10, 2015 was riding his skateboard home along a rural road when he was struck and killed by Maki’s truck.
“I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye,” his mother, Renee Salazaar sobbed. “I would do anything to tell him again I love him.”
“My family is serving a life sentence for what he did,” said his father, Jeffrey DeMeules.
Maki was charged 10 days after a FOX 9 Investigation last November, that revealed how the DeMeules family had uncovered key evidence about the events that night. Combing through a Blu-ray disc of the evidence from the state crime lab, the family discovered Maki was on his cell phone from 8:06 to 8:09:30. A nearby surveillance camera captured Maki’s truck leaving the scene at 8:09.
More disturbing, according to cell phone records, 45 minutes after the hit-and-run, Maki attempted to download an “Isanti Co. MN Scanner,” that would allow him to listen to police calls.
“He was on his phone trying to download the scanner, while paramedics were trying to save Antonio’s life,” said Sheila Potocnik, Antonio’s aunt.
This week, in a joint letter to FOX 9, Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk and Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad admitted to mistakes made in the case. They write that the evidence from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was on a Blu-ray disc. The Sheriff’s Department did not have a Blu-ray player and they did not bother to buy one.
“That was only one mistake, Isanti has made so many mistakes they should be embarrassed,” Potocnik said.
The family is disappointed that Maki didn’t face the more serious charge of criminal vehicular homicide. Instead, Maki was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
But Judge Douglas Meslow said he was restricted by sentencing guidelines, which take into consideration a defendants prior criminal history. Maki has prior convictions for drunk driving and auto theft. Prosecutors did not request an upward departure for aggravating circumstances.
But Judge Meslow found a creative sentencing approach. Maki will serve his 162 day sentence in one-month increments over the next four years, beginning August 18 (Antonio’s birthday) through September 11 (the day after Antonio was killed).
Maki will be on probation for four years. He must submit to mandatory urinalysis for alcohol and drugs, and is not allowed to be in a bar or a liquor store.
Maki was returning from a bar, Jumpin’ Jacks, the night he struck and killed Antonio. Text messages suggest he may have been at another bar that night.
Maki's Letter to Judge Meslow
I am writing this letter to you today to express my sincere remorse for my irresponsible and dangerous actions that where involved in the tragic accident with Antonio DeMeules. There is not a day that doesn’t go by since September 11, 2015 that I have not thought about Antonio. I wish I could have helped him. I wish I could go back, knowing now what I didn’t know then. This has definitely changed my awareness while I’m driving at all times throughout the entire day.
I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and suffering Antonio’s parents, family and (illegible) have felt and continue to go through every single day. Being a parent myself all I can do is hope and pray that I will never have to go through that or be in that position. My heart hurts for Antonio’s family in a way I cannot describe. I think about how unfair it is that his life was cut short at such a young age, a thought that continuously runs through my mind. I hope to get the chance to express my deepest remorse and give an apology to Antonio’s family and friends for my irresponsible actions for not stopping that evening, that had contributed to the terrible tragic accident.