Lack of restitution payments questioned for driver in fatal crash

Published 9:00 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

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The driver in the fatal crash near Glenville beach in 2020 was back in Freeborn County District Court on Thursday on allegations that he was not making restitution payments to the victim’s family as ordered at his sentencing.

Dominik Boots-Ringoen

Dominik Boots-Ringoen was ordered to make a payment of $8.27 every week to the family of James Joseph Amarosa III of Albert Lea, who was killed in the crash. The weekly amount was symbolic of the date of the crash — Aug. 27, 2020.

In addition to the death of Amarosa, the crash injured three others. Boots-Ringoen, who didn’t have a valid license and had a pending DWI charge at the time, had been drinking prior to getting behind the wheel of the car. He pleaded guilty in July 2021 to one count of felony criminal vehicular homicide and admitted to losing control of the car while drifting on the road, a technique in which the driver intentionally oversteers to cause a loss of traction and causes the vehicle to drift sideways. The car was heading southbound on 795th Avenue when it went into the ditch and struck a tree.

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Boots-Ringoen, now 20, was sentenced to 365 days in jail and up to 10 years of supervised probation for his role in the crash, in addition to a stayed prison term and $17,489 in restitution.

Boots-Ringoen is nearing the end of his jail term, in which he has been allowed to participate in the work release program in Washington County, which allows an inmate to leave the jail to report to work and then report back each night.

Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said his primary goal was not to place a sanction on Boots-Ringoen for failing to make the payments but simply to make sure he was doing so.

That part of the sentence had been suggested by Amarosa’s mother as a restorative justice initiative — essentially so Boots-Ringoen would have a reminder of the date of the crash each week, Walker said. While this can’t possibly make Boots-Ringoen think of how Amarosa’s mother thinks in the aftermath of her son’s death, they hoped it would assist in her response to what happened without being onerous or unfair to Boots-Ringoen, the county attorney said.

Boots-Ringoen’s lawyer, John Hamer, said his client had been in correspondence with someone with the Department of Corrections about the payments, as he is on GPS monitoring when he leaves the jail each day to go to work and then is supposed to report straight back to the jail without making any other stops. He said it has been a challenge while in jail.

Hamer said they also had thought they had a solution with Boots-Ringoen’s mother making the payments, but he said if that is not feasible, he can help his client figure out an alternative.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Ross Leuning said the intent of the sentencing order was for Boots-Ringoen to make the payments and that if anyone else made the payments, that would not achieve the intent of the order.

At the end of the hearing Walker withdrew the official alleged probation violation, and Leuning ordered both sides to submit a proposal going forward about how the payments will be made.