Alcohol-related charges filed in scooter death

18-year-old Brett Raley, Burnsville, killed in 2012

Criminal charges have been filed in the death of Brett Raley, 14 months after the 18-year-old Burnsville man was killed in an early-morning motor scooter crash in Savage.

An friend of Raley’s, Thomas James Spires of Burnsville, was charged this month with providing liquor to a minor, a gross misdemeanor, and two counts of aiding and abetting driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

Authorities say Spires, 25, was seated behind Raley when Raley drove the motor scooter into a 6-foot-tall wooden fence near Lynn Avenue and 125th Street on May 8, 2012. Police were called to the scene at 2:15 a.m.

Raley, pronounced dead at the scene 33 minutes later, had a blood-alcohol concentration of .11. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is .08.

Spires admitted to furnishing the alcohol after first denying that he knew Raley was under the influence or had been drinking, according to the criminal complaint.

The alcohol-related charges come months after the Scott County Attorney’s Office decided against felony charges against Spires.

They represent a measure of justice for Raley’s family members, who, according to interviews in the Savage Pacer newspaper, believe Spires was driving at the time of the crash and have questioned why more serious charges weren’t filed.

“I was so happy I was shaking,” Raley’s mother, Lisa, told the Pacer last week. “I was in tears.”

Attempts by Sun Thisweek to contact Lisa Raley for comment were unsuccessful.

Scott County Attorney Pat Ciliberto said his office viewed the case through “a different set of eyes” in filing the alcohol-related charges.

“If somebody says something that leads us to look at something else in a case, we do that,” Ciliberto said. “We do that as a matter of course to see if we missed something. We decided there’s probable cause to charge him as we did.”

Savage police forwarded their investigation to the county attorney’s office last July, and the office communicated in early September that Spires wouldn’t be charged criminally, according to the Pacer.

Ciliberto said prosecutors were originally concerned with whether the case warranted felony charges.

“But when we first looked at it, we did not have any felony charges that we felt there was probably cause to bring,” he told Sun Thisweek. “At first we didn’t even know who was driving.”

An investigation has affirmed it was Raley, Ciliberto said.

According to the criminal complaint, a witness, Andrea Krueger, came upon the accident scene, “discovered that no one had called 911,” and called it herself.

She told police she spoke with Spires, “who told her he had been on the back of the scooter with the decedent,” the complaint said. She said Spires told her that both he and Raley had been drinking and that Raley was supposed to have been his “sober cab.”

Spires told police he’d allowed Raley to drive the scooter, which was registered to Spires’ mother, even though he knew Raley didn’t have a driver’s license, the complaint said.

After denying knowing Raley had been drinking, Spires then admitted he had bought a bottle of Jagermeister liquor on May 7, and that he, Raley and another male friend drank together in Hidden Valley Park in Savage.

“This drinking occurred prior to the accident,” the complaint said.

The scooter crash took out an 8-foot section of fence. Found lying in a resident’s yard, Raley died from a ruptured artery at the base of his neck and spinal column, the Pacer reported.