Man Drives Drunk at 100mph, Crashes Into and Kills Young Couple – Judge Lets Him Out Without Bail

PhilipBertelsenI’m not sure if it’s our access to media that we have nowadays, or it’s an escalating problem within our judicial system, but there seems to be a systemic problem in this country of people committing horrible crimes being coddled by judges.

The latest case comes from Minnesota where 55-year-old Philip Scott Bertelsen was set free without having to post bail as he awaits his trail for killing Melvin Jones and Brandy Banks-Sutta, after plowing into the back of their vehicle drunk last year.  The two victims were stopped at a light at Morgan Avenue North and Olson Memorial Highway in Minneapolis on Nov. 3, 2013 when they were hit from behind by Bertelsen and instantly killed.

After a 5-month investigation, Bertelsen was charged with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

At the time of the accident Bertelsen had a blood alcohol content of .18, which is more than twice the legal limit in the state.

But even as Bertelsen has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide, the families of the victims are furious at the fact that the judge didn’t require him to post bail before being set free to await trial.  While prosecutors had asked for $300,000 in bail, Hennepin District Court Judge William Koch didn’t require Bertelsen to pay any bail at all.

Family members of the victims were absolutely shocked when the decision was announced, with one of them screaming an expletive at the judge as they left the court room.

Bertelsen was released under the conditions that he obey the law and stay away from alcohol and drugs.  Real “harsh” requirements to follow for someone who’s responsible for two deaths.

Did he get released without paying bail because he’s a middle-aged white male?  Possibly.  While there’s obviously no evidence that says that, I just can’t shake the feeling that if he were a minority, he wouldn’t have been allowed to go free to await his trail without posting some kind of a bond.  Heck, people get caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana that end up having to pay some kind of a bail to be set free.  Yet this guy kills two people while he was driving drunk and speeding excessively, but he’s allowed to walk out of the courtroom only being required to “obey the law” and not drink or do drugs?

How could the prosecution have hoped for $300,000 in bail yet get nothing?  They clearly had to believe that he was easily going to be required to pay bail otherwise they wouldn’t have aimed for such a high number – yet he wasn’t ordered to pay anything?

Something just isn’t right with this case.  But it’s just another instance, in a growing trend of them, where someone accused of committing a terrible crime is given a mind-boggling slap on the wrist from a judge.

Let’s just hope his “freedom” is short-lived and he sees the inside of a jail cell very soon.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • xnerd

    This doesnt make sense at all. this crap doesn’t happen these days..
    While the whole world cracks down on actions such as these, this guy gets no bail????.

  • Avatar

    We the serfs and small people are getting crapped by our own judges across the nation. White privilege is messing us up big time. (I’m white dude anyways, I’m not being blind to the truth)

  • saganhill

    But being caught smoking a joint you get 20 years with a 500K bail.

    • Shannon

      Mmm, not in MN, it won’t. Hyperbole really doesn’t help the conversation.

  • Mr Mike

    I guarantee he has some sort of relationship with that judge. They may be family, or they may have business with one another, but they certainly know each other.

  • deanne

    The judges last name is Koch. No sense of judgement. The murderer is whiteand the 2 killed were black. I am white and from MN and am outraged. There needs to be some kind of oversite as I am sure this is no where near the recommendations. You kill someone and don’t take away their means to kill again? Warped.

  • Vince Dennen

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you found the answer in the race of the victims.

    • Thomas Graves

      What race are you talking about? I am HUMAN. That’s my race, and if anyone thinks they are anything other than HUMAN, they are lying through their tooth.

      • Vince Dennen

        Thomas, the courts have traditionally been racist. When the victim is black or hispanic, they seldom see appropriate Justice. My comment was simply making “that” point since it had been suggested the victim was black.

  • bamcintyre

    No, it’s not that fancy… The killer was white, the victims were not. The judge had to protect the life of that poor white asshole. The lives of the others were not as important. (just for the record, I’m white, old, and conservative, but I’m not stupid.)

    We need a clearing of assholes off the bench. If you are white and rich, the state pays to send your kid to a “rehab” and pay the $20,000/month fee. But if you are a minority, and a cop thinks you MIGHT be smoking, you go to jail and wait until the judge gets around to even hearing your case.

    Shits gotta change.

    • Carla Talbott

      I’m old and white and liberal and I agree with you completely!

  • classee1

    Victims were black. That seems to be the trend these days. So sad

  • Jason Schilling

    If I was the family of those he murdered, I would be glad he was out because it would be easier for me to take him out…there would be a fertile patch of grass somewhere deep in the forest if that was my family….

  • sherry06053

    This is an insult to all of us, but absolutely obnoxious to the victims’ families. Inexcusable – there should be an investigation.

  • James

    you know drunks are not going to stop

  • TheGermanGuy

    As a white guy from Minnesota, I’m starting to get really embarrassed by the decisions our state has made recently. This case, the Little Falls murder case, the proposed oil pipelines. Really makes me question whether MN is actually the “liberal haven” that people think, or if we’ve been overrun by a bunch of idiots at all levels.


    The only reason this case has anything to do with race is because people are are making this case about the color of your skin. This is about human beings. It’s sad that you are all ready to jump on the hate bandwagon and join in the anger over misinformation. This man wasn’t set free, he’s awaiting trial and not because some judge took it easy on him. It’s because the MPD, who had 5 months to get everything in order, botched protocol when they picked up this man violating his rights. Not only did the judge want bail, his lawyer even asked for bail.

    • Justice4all

      As a concerned family member please explain to me where you THINK this murderer rights were violated


        Everyone is entitled to a chance to turn themselves in, no matter what the crime. The Minneapolis Police Department forgot this essential piece of protocol, and therefor this judge everyone loves to hate was forced to release him. Again, nothing to to with the crime committed, but these are laws that have been placed to protect everyone’s rights – including yours. If you want to point a finger, point it at the MPD, not the judge.

      • justice4all

        There is no fingers being pointed at anyone but the alcoholic drunk that killed these two people. I wonder would you feel this way if it was a member of your family. I find it hard to believe that him not given the chance to turn himself in had any affect on whether or not he was to be given a bail. Once charged, a warrant issued the police can make an arrest. Happens all the time. The Judge was not FORCE to let him go, he chose to do so!!!


        Again, you need to check your facts. This case caught my attention from the beginning and I have been paying close attention to the details in this trial. This judges hands were forced to release him and it was because the MPD messed up. The judge wanted to order a bail amount, BUT COULDN’T – not wouldn’t. I’m a little worried to see what else the Minneapolis Police Department botched. Hopefully nothing. And I’m sad to see so many on this site just seeing in black and white.