Trial for Dinkytown hit-and-run begins Tuesday

Timothy Bakdash allegedly drove into a group of pedestrians last year, killing one.

Branden Largent

The trial of Timothy Bakdash, who allegedly killed a University of Minnesota student when he ran into a group of pedestrians in Dinkytown last spring, will begin Tuesday morning.

The trial will start with jury selection, which could take most of the week. If the process goes smoothly, the lead attorneys could make their opening statements by Friday, said Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney.

Bakdash, 29, faces one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

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.

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

Katelynn Hanson suffered no life-threatening injuries, while Sarah Bagley had to have knee surgery.

According to the criminal complaint, Bakdash sold the car following the accident to a man referred to as “B.B.,” who said Bakdash admitted he intended to hit and kill three people he got into an argument with earlier in the night at the Library Bar and Grill in Dinkytown.

Leslie Falk, a University senior and a witness in the trial, said Van Handel was walking her home from Blarney Pub and Grill when he was struck by Bakdash’s car.

“It was an unfortunate situation. Ben had nothing to do with [Bakdash]. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Falk said.

The complaint said Bakdash told B.B. he “had no remorse for hitting the others.”

Within a week of the incident, Bakdash was booked in Hennepin County Jail with $1 million bail. He remains in custody pending the trial.

If the jury finds Bakdash guilty of first-degree murder, he could face life in prison without parole, Laszewski said.

He said the trial, originally set for November but delayed because of scheduling conflicts, is expected to last two to three weeks.

Bakdash is also facing a civil suit from Bagley for injuries she sustained to her knee. The jury trial for that lawsuit is set for Sept. 10.