Judge finds man guilty on all counts in 2021 hit-and-run crash that killed motorcyclist
A Minneapolis man faces prison time after a Hennepin County judge found him guilty of hitting and killing a motorcyclist last July.
Court records show 32-year-old Quantelize Jerell Welch waived his right to a jury trial in the July 20 killing of 26-year-old Caleb Hutchins. He instead opted for a bench trial, which was held from May 17-19.
In a ruling filed on Friday, Judge Thomas Conley convicted Welch on all charges: two counts of second-degree murder and one count of criminal vehicular homicide. His sentencing is set for Aug. 3.
According to a criminal complaint, police responded to a reported hit-and-run in an alley between Penn Avenue North and Queen Avenue North. Upon arrival, they found Hutchins with “major injuries.” He later died at North Memorial Health Hospital.
A man driving a stolen white SUV followed Hutchins into the alley, the complaint states. One witness told police the SUV hit the back of the dirt bike motorcycle, knocking Hutchins off.
Witnesses who testified in the trial said they heard the SUV revving its engine before charging down the alley toward Hutchins.
“The evidence has shown that [Welch’s] act of running [Hutchins] down was intentional and malicious, leading to the loss of the life of a young man who had everything to live for, extinguished with the roar of an engine in a back alley,” prosecutors wrote in their closing statement submitted to the court.
Three witnesses who saw the crash helped identify Welch as the driver. A fourth man, whose stolen vehicle matched the one used in the incident, said he had given a ride to a person he known as “Zeast Man” or “Beast Man” on July 17. According to the witness, Welch drove away in the vehicle, saying he’d be back in 20 minutes, but never came back.
Police later recovered the vehicle near 33rd Avenue North and Sixth Street North. It had front-end damage and blue paint on the bumper that matched the dirt bike.
On the day of the crash, police said they believed Welch was targeting Hutchins.