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Attorney says Mahtowa hit-and-run 'may have been intentional'

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A former Duluth man was charged Friday in the Wednesday hit-and-run death of Mahtowa rest stop janitor Greg “Blackie” Blackburn.

Gregory Allen Scherber, 55, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, both felonies, in 6th District Court, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Scherber led police on a 25-mile chase that ended in Hermantown.

Blackburn, it was earlier reported, was 62 and from Cloquet.

The News Tribune also reports that more serious charges could follow based on witness statements that Scherber appeared to run over Blackburn on purpose, Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler says.

“I’m still getting discovery from multiple agencies involved in the chase, arrest and investigation,” Pertler told 6th District Judge Robert Macaulay. “There is some indication that the conduct resulting in the death of the individual may have been intentional.”

The paper details a lengthy criminal complaint that puts Scherber at an address in Duluth, but he said in court that he now lives in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota State Patrol was informed of the hit-and-run at the Culkin rest area on northbound Interstate 35 near Mahtowa about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. It was shortly after that a trooper in the vicinity of Highway 210 and I-35 saw a vehicle matching a description traveling fast northbound on I-35. The trooper gave chase to a blue Ford pickup, at speeds approaching 100 mph in heavy traffic on northbound I-35, the paper says.

The complaint, according to the paper, continues:

“The defendant’s pickup truck sped through the parking lot and over concrete medians as he approached the victim and ultimately struck the victim ... The witnesses reported hearing not only the squealing of the tires as the vehicle accelerated rapidly, but also described the pickup truck thumping as it went over the concrete median separators and ultimately the sound of the defendant’s truck striking the victim.”

Defense attorney Sonia Sturdevant, who the News Tribune says represented Scherber at the arraignment Friday, said Scherber is "an honorably discharged Navy veteran,” adding that he is disabled because of mental illness.

Bail is set at $75,000 bond or $7,500 cash and Scherber’s next hearing is 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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