Snowmobile driver found guilty of 3rd degree murder in crash that killed 8-year-old

A jury found Eric Coleman guilty Tuesday nearly a year after the snowmobile driver fatally struck an eight-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. on Chisago Lake. He was found guilty on all seven counts, including third degree murder. 

Coleman was facing one count of third degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, two counts of criminal vehicular operation causing bodily harm and two counts of driving while intoxicated. 

The Geisenkoetter family was ice fishing on the frozen lake when an allegedly drunk Coleman plowed into their setup going nearly 60 miles per hour. 

Although his father, Alan Geisenkoetter Sr., suffered some physical injuries, eight-year-old Alan was dragged across the ice about 100 feet by the snowmobile. He suffered numerous broken bones, as well as a traumatic brain injury. The family pulled him off life support five days later. 

Michael Berger, Coleman’s defense attorney, was emotional while delivering his closing argument on Tuesday. 

“This is something everybody, the Geisenkoetters and Mr. Coleman will struggle with the rest of their lives, and I get it, too, ” Berger said. “It’s something we’ve been invested in the last year. It’s a difficult thing to deal with. It’s hard being part of the tragedy.”

During the trial, prosecutors argued Coleman was guilty of third degree murder and that he recklessly caused Alan’s death by “perpetuating an act eminently dangerous without regard for human life,” meaning he drove drunk knowing the consequences. 

Coleman’s defense team conceded he was guilty of all the other charges, including criminal vehicular homicide, but not of murder. 

“It is a bridge too far that he developed a depraved mind and his actions were so egregious that they rose to third degree murder,” Berger said.

Coleman's release conditions were revoked by the judge following conviction. This means he will go to jail immediately and then on to prison. His sentencing is set for Feb. 7, 2019.