Court hears opening arguments of Dinkytown hit-and-run trial

Defense attorney said Bakdash didn't intend to hurt the three victims.

Branden Largent

Opening statements in Timothy Bakdash’s trial over last year’s hit-and-run that killed one University of Minnesota student and injured two others began Monday morning.

Early on April 15, 2011, Bakdash allegedly drove up on the curb and struck four pedestrians, injuring three, as he drove the wrong way down the one-way Fifth Street Southeast.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino said Bakdash was drunk and high at the time and only wanted to scare the man he thought he fought with outside a Dinkytown bar the night of the incident.

“He never knew these people, didn’t see them and never intended to hurt them,” Tamburino said of his client.

He also said Bakdash didn’t know he hit Benjamin Van Handel until a coworker told him the next day that Van Handel was seriously injured in the incident.

Van Handel was in a coma for five days after the accident and died April 21 after being taken off life support.

Tamburino is trying to prove Bakdash was not guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder because, he says, Bakdash didn’t mean to kill anybody.

But the Hennepin County prosecutors, led by Christina Warren, said Bakdash intended to kill.

“He didn’t swerve, he didn’t stop, he didn’t brake,” Warren said.

“The evidence in this case clearly shows that what the defendant did was murder.”

For the jury to convict Bakdash of first-degree murder, the prosecution has to prove Bakdash intended and planned, or “premeditated,” to murder the students.