Mom of daughter killed in crash wants harsher penalties for driver

More than a year after her daughter was killed in a traffic accident; a mother from Monticello, Minn. is calling for harsher punishment for the young woman behind the wheel.

19-year-old Megan Lehner was killed last November on her way to a funeral. She was a passenger in 28-year-old Ashley Gieseke’s car when Gieseke drove the wrong way on a one-way and crashed.

“Ashley told me she was trying to get out of giving [Megan] a ride. She didn't want to give her a ride, but Megan couldn't find another ride, so she said she would do it,” Dorene Larson, Megan’s mother, said.

Gieseke only had a learner's permit at the time and this year pled guilty to a misdemeanor careless driving charge. Gieseke has had three run-ins with police in Sherburne County since; two DWIs, including a probation violation. Gieseke is also currently facing a felony assault charge in a separate case. 

“All [she] had to say was that 'I didn't have a valid driver's license,' and I’d still have my daughter,” Gieseke said.

For Lehner’s death, Gieseke faces 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, according to the Stearns County sheriff’s office.

Even though a new law, effective since August, allows for gross misdemeanor reckless driving charge in Minnesota attorney Mike Bryant explains that since the law was not in place at the time of the accident, it will not impact how Gieseke is charged in Lehner’s death.

“You can't be guilty for something that didn't exist at the time you did it that's just a part of the process,” Bryant said.

Now, the mourning mother is left hoping that when Gieseke stands before a Stearns County judge her daughter is remembered.

“My daughter's gone and they don't care,” Larson said. “That's how I feel is that that they do not care.”

Gieseke will be sentenced in Stearns County on the Dec. 28.