Suspect in fatal Minneapolis hit-and-run crash appears in court

The 21-year-old man accused of leaving the scene of a fatal car crash that killed a University of St. Thomas student had his first day in court. 

According to the criminal complaint, Michael Campbell was driving a car that crashed and killed his 20-year-old girlfriend Ria Patel, who was a junior at St. Thomas University. He was eventually found two days later at his mother's home in Wright County. Wednesday, he was charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

Charging documents show that at least one person said Campbell was "super drunk" that night and there are reports that Campbell and Patel had been fighting.

However in court Thursday, through his attorney, Campbell argued he was not drunk behind the wheel and that he didn't run away and leave his girlfriend to die. Rather, he knew she was already dead, freaked out, panicked and ran.

When discussing bail, prosecutors argued he was a "danger to the community" and a flight risk because he ran and didn't call police at any time.

The defense said he actually wasn't hiding as he was at his mother's home where anyone could have found him. His attorney went on to say this was not "an intentional crime" and that "Mr. Campbell did not want this to happen."

The judge set bail at $250,000 without conditions, $150,000 with conditions, noting Campbell never called police even though he knew they were looking for him.  

Campbell had a large group of supporters in the courtroom, including friends and his parents. Also there were Patel's family and friends, who all declined to comment on the case.

Campbell has a number of driving violations and was actually on probation for a hit-and-run with property damage at the time of the crash.

Patel’s family has started a GoFundMe page that they intend to use to begin a charity or a foundation in her name. 

Thursday at 8:30 p.m., there will be a vigil on the St.Thomas campus will be held in memory of Ria Patel.

Campbell remains in the Hennepin County Jail after his first court appearance.