Hit-and-run driver pleads ‘not guilty’

The man accused of killing a University student in a hit-and-run will face trial for murder.

The man accused of killing a University of Minnesota student and injuring two others in a hit-and-run will face trial in November.

Timothy Bakdash of Roseville, Minn., pleaded not guilty to his charges: one count of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree attempted murder for the April 15 hit-and-run that killed Ben Van Handel. The trial will begin Nov. 14, said Joseph Tamburino, Bakdash’s attorney.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.

A Hennepin County grand jury indicted Bakdash on the first-degree murder charges May 18. He was originally charged with second-degree murder.

Bakdash, 29, allegedly drove his vehicle into several University students on Fifth Street Southeast in Dinkytown. He was arrested five days later.

Van Handel, 23, entered a coma and died five days later. University students Katelynn Hanson and Sarah Bagley were injured in the accident as well.

In the weeks after the accident, police announced that Bakdash allegedly targeted the group of students after an argument at a Dinkytown bar.

According to the criminal complaint, Bakdash told the man who bought his car, identified only as “B.B.,” that he had been in a car accident earlier that day and “intended to hit and kill three of the people” walking on Fifth Street Southeast.

Police later discovered that none of the three students involved in the accident had been in an altercation with Bakdash that night.

Tamburino requested the entire transcript of the grand jury proceedings that indicted Bakdash on the first-degree murder charges. Tamburino said they would be necessary to determine why the grand jury indicted his client for first-degree murder rather than second-degree murder.

The judge’s order should come through in late July, Tamburino said, and the process of exchanging evidence should be finished by September.

Bakdash was previously convicted on a DWI charge for an incident in 2008, according to Hennepin County court records. He had finished his mandatory probation a little more than a month before the April 15 incident. He was also convicted for careless driving in a separate 2008 incident.

Bakdash is currently in custody at Hennepin County Jail under $1 million bail.

Timothy Bakdash’s mother, Diane Bakdash, faces criminal accessory charges in the incident. Diane Bakdash is accused of signing over the title of the car allegedly used in the hit-and-run so that her son could sell it after the accident.

Diane Bakdash was originally held on $1 million bail, but was released for $100,000 after the judge reduced her bail.

Diane Bakdash and her attorney Ryan Garry filed a motion to dismiss those charges earlier this month on the grounds that she was unaware of the crime. Pre-trial proceedings for her case will begin June 27, Garry said.

Police have asked anyone who may have had an encounter with Timothy Bakdash on the night of the incident to call investigators at 612-673-2941.