Snowmobiler testifies he killed, but 'didn't murder' boy in fatal crash

The snowmobile driver who fatally struck an eight-year-old boy on Chisago Lake in January took the stand in his defense Monday afternoon, arguing the incident was not murder.

Eric Coleman is facing multiple charges in the January 2018 crash that killed eight-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. on frozen Chisago Lake. The highest count is third degree murder.

Coleman’s defense team concedes he is guilty of criminal vehicular homicide, but not murder. If convicted by the jury, the difference might approach 10 years in prison. 

For about 30 minutes, Coleman answered attorney questions through some tears.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mr. Coleman, are you can alcoholic?


DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Are you sober today?


DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Did you kill Little Alan?

COLEMAN: Yes I did. I didn’t murder him though.

Coleman’s testimony came right after Alan’s intensive care doctor spoke about the catastrophic injuries the child suffered when struck by Coleman’s snowmobile at nearly 60 miles per hour. The doctor also discussed the agonizing decision the family had to make to pull Alan off life support five days later. Alan's parents gave their testimony on Friday.

Relatives say the trial has been difficult for the family.

"It's Christmas time," said Mary Beth Lonnee, Alan's grandmother. "It's hard. It's really hard."

As part of the state’s case, the jury saw photos of Coleman’s damaged snowmobile as well as images of the crash aftermath.

The defense argued the lighting was bad when the crash happened and that Coleman did not see the Geisenkoetters’ setup in the middle of the lake. 

Coleman was the only witness for the defense. As both sides have rested, closing arguments are set for Tuesday morning. Then, it will be up to a jury to decide if this was in fact a case of murder.