A homeless St. Paul man who told police he’d been driving around all day with others in a stolen vehicle while smoking meth and heroin prior to a crash that killed one of the passengers had been bailed out not once, but twice, in recent weeks by the Minnesota Freedom Fund in two other felony drug cases.
Devin Markus Chase, 31, has been charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide involving gross negligence and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, and one count of auto theft following last week’s crash that resulted in the death of 30-year-old Randi Lee Stone.
Charges say St. Paul police responded just after 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20 to a two-vehicle crash at Cretin Avenue North and Mississippi River Boulevard where it appeared a Nissan Rogue and a Nissan Altima had collided head-on.
The first officer on the scene found Chase on the ground a foot away from the Rogue’s driver’s side door which was shut. The officer spoke to witnesses at the scene who said two Asian females had fled from the passenger side of the Rogue.
Officers found Stone in the Rogue’s backseat on the driver’s side in a pool of blood. She was not wearing a seatbelt and it appeared her head had struck a pillar on the driver’s side between the driver’s and passenger’s doors. She was pronounced dead by medics at the scene.
Chase told medics that Stone’s sister had been driving, and she fled the scene. Chase claimed he had been in the back driver’s side when they crashed. Chase was transported to the hospital and was diagnosed with a dislocated hip.
Officers recovered drug paraphernalia, alprazolam, and tinfoil from the Rogue. A search warrant was subsequently drafted for a blood draw on Chase.
St. Paul police posted on social media following the crash that drug impairment was believed to be involved in the crash.
Officers spoke to the Altima’s driver who said he was headed south on Cretin Avenue and approaching Mississippi River Boulevard in the right-most lane when he saw the Rogue coming towards him at a high rate of speed. He said the Rogue then crossed over the center line and drove into oncoming traffic. The driver of the Altima tried to swerve to the right to avoid the collision, but the curb prevented him from getting out of the Rogue’s path. The driver said the front passenger side of his Altima struck the center of the Rogue, and he was able to crawl out of the passenger side of his car. The Altima’s driver said he saw an extremely upset woman walking around the Rogue, and he was not sure if anyone else was in the Rogue. Officers noted no signs of impairment in the Altima’s driver, the complaint said.
Police learned that the Rogue had been stolen Feb. 8 in St. Paul and was also bearing incorrect plates at the time of the crash.
When officers spoke to Chase the next morning at the hospital, they noticed redness on both of Chase’s arms consistent with a steering wheel airbag being deployed and leaving burns on his arms.
After being advised of his rights, Chase agreed to speak to investigators. Chase told investigators that he had been living out of the Rogue for about two weeks with four other people, including Stone, Stone’s sister, another woman and another man. He said he didn’t know where it came from, but he assumed it was stolen and denied knowing who stole the Rogue.
Chase said the five of them drove to Northeast Minneapolis and bought methamphetamine and heroin on the morning of the crash. He told investigators that they drove around all day smoking the drugs they had purchased.
Chase maintained to investigators that he had not been driving and that he was in the rear driver’s side seat.
When asked if police would find his DNA or fingerprints around the driver’s compartment, Chase said his DNA would be all over the area because he had driven the Rogue before. Chase denied that his DNA would be on the driver’s steering wheel airbag.
Chase declined to provide a voluntary DNA sample and initially refused to cooperate with providing a DNA sample after police obtained a warrant to collect it.
At some point last week, a photo from a home security system was posted on Nextdoor which appeared to show a suspect matching Chase’s description with a similar looking Rogue in the background with the driver’s door open. The person who posted the photo said the suspect pictured was stealing packages in St. Paul. One person in the comment section said the person who was laying outside the vehicle after the crash was wearing the same pants as the suspect pictured. A St. Paul police sergeant commented on the Nextdoor post and asked the original poster of the picture to contact them.
Criminal history and Minnesota Freedom Fund
Chase has a lengthy criminal history of at least 24 convictions which stretch the length of his entire adult life. His convictions include three felonies for burglary, theft, and domestic assault, as well as several other domestic assault or abuse convictions, and multiple driving after revocation, counterfeiting currency, theft, receiving stolen property, and drug convictions.
The new criminal complaint against Chase also noted that he has a prior gross misdemeanor conviction on criminal vehicular operation in Anoka County District Court in which he was involved in a hit-and-run while under the influence of alcohol.
Chase currently has two pending Hennepin County cases involving felony charges of drugs in one case charged in August 2021, and felony charges of theft and drugs in another case charged in January 2022.
Court records show warrants had been issued for Chase’s arrest in April 2022 after he failed to appear at scheduled court hearings in both cases. He was arrested on the warrants at the end of October 2022 and bail was set at $2,000 or $200 cash. A court document shows Minnesota Freedom Fund provided cash bail on Nov. 8, 2022, and listed both drug case numbers.
Conditional release violation reports were filed with the court in both cases in mid-December along with a judge’s order revoking Chase’s interim conditions of release for failure to comply with conditions of release, and warrants were again issued for his arrest.
Jail records show Chase was arrested by Eden Prairie police on Dec. 27 and was booked into custody on the warrants as well as a probable cause charge of felon in possession of a firearm, for which he was apparently never formally charged. Bail was set at $3,000 or $300 cash.
Another court document shows Minnesota Freedom Fund again supplied bail, and the jail record shows Chase was released from custody on that bail on Jan. 24, 2023. Chase remained out of custody on MFF’s bail at the time of the fatal crash last week.
Records show Chase remains in custody on the new charges on $500,000 bail.
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