Mark Chalin begs for mercy, gets four years for killing two in driving-while-having-sex wreck
Chalin (left) was allegedly having sex with Menezes (right) when he crashed, killing Menezes and another driver.
Mark Chalin's criminal vehicular homicide sentencing hearing was quite the dramatic affair.
Emotions ran high as Chalin, a 24-year-old Mankato resident, said he was sorry and begged a judge not to send him to prison. According to a Mankato Free Press report, after a judge doled out a 50-month sentence yesterday, the mother of Amber Menezes -- Chalin's 23-year-old girlfriend who was killed in a driving-while-having-sex wreck in Blue Earth County on August 7, 2011 -- kneeled on the courtroom floor and tearfully begged Chalin to "do good. Make the best of this."
Menezes' mother then pounded the floor with her hands and could be heard saying, "Nobody wins."
In addition to Menezes, another woman, 35-year-old Jonna Martin, was killed in the crash, the circumstances of which are detailed in our blog post from October:
Chalin was allegedly driving and having sex with Menezes when he crossed the center line on Blue Earth County Road 90 and slammed into a vehicle driven by Martin. Both Martin and Menezes died. Chalin suffered 26 broken bones, a damaged bladder, and spent 45 days in the hospital, but survived.
Investigators concluded Chalin was distracted, inattentive, and had his vision obscured at the time of the crash. He was charged in February.
[On October 1], Chalin entered an Alford plea, meaning he denies guilt but acknowledges there's enough evidence to convict him.
The sentencing hearing included dramatic testimony on both sides of the issue. Some made a case that Chalin is a caring kid who doesn't deserve to spend years in prison, while one of Martin's four children simply said, "I feel sad because I want to see my mom."
Details about Chalin's relationship with Menezes come courtesy of the Free Press:
Mark Chalin was already sobbing when Birkholz asked him to sit in the witness chair and describe his relationship with Menezes. Chalin said she started living with a friend after she was kicked out of her house. For two weeks prior to the crash, they had been living together at Chalin's apartment on Byron Street.
They had gone to his father's wedding in Blue Earth the day before the crash. He introduced her to his family and friends, they danced and they had a few drinks at the reception. Chalin echoed [Menezes mother's] description of her daughter when he said everyone immediately became friends with Menezes.
They spent the night at Chalin's father's new home near Delavan and he said they were sober when they left for Mankato on Aug. 7. He said the last thing he remembers before the crash is turning on to Highway 169 and heading north.
After District Court Judge Bradley Walker announced Chalin's just-over-four-years sentence, he said: "It's not my job to make people happy... I just hope everyone can walk out of this courtroom thinking about how someone's life can change in an instant," the Free Press reports.
Chalin will be eligible for supervised released after about three years.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.