Drunk driver pleads guilty, apologizes to and hugs victim's sister

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A guilty plea in the death of a woman out for a walk ended with the driver of the car apologizing to the victim’s sister, with hugs and tears, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Luann Johnson, 58, of Medina, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal vehicular homicide with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more just as jury selection was to begin Tuesday morning. In exchange, two other counts will be dismissed.

Johnson will be sentenced July 15. The agreement is that she will be sentenced to four years in prison, but that will not executed and Johnson will be on probation for five years. She also will be sentenced to 365 days in the county workhouse with more than half of the sentence there and the rest on electronic home monitoring.

While the family of the victim, 56-year-old Mary Singleton, will provide victim impact statements at the time of the sentencing, members of the family expressed forgiveness in the courtroom Tuesday. After the hearing was completed, Singleton’s sister asked to speak to Johnson. The two women hugged, Johnson apologized and they cried. A few minutes later, Johnson also spoke to Singleton’s husband and son.

“This agreement was reached with the full knowledge and participation of Mary Singleton’s family,” said Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown. “This was a just outcome for all involved and the result was a rare occasion of a tragic death being resolved with compassion and forgiveness.”

According to the criminal complaint and testimony in court Tuesday, about 5:45 p.m. on June 12, 2017, Johnson was driving northbound on County Road 101 in Plymouth when she swerved across both southbound lanes, jumped the curb and struck and killed Singleton on the sidewalk.

An analysis of Johnson’s blood found an alcohol reading of .08, equaling the legal limit.