Skip to main content

The Orono man who was drunk behind the wheel of a Bentley when it crashed, killing Mack Motzko and Sam Schuneman last summer, has pleaded guilty ahead of trial.

The 20-year-old Motzko, the son of Gophers hockey coach Bob Motzko, and the 24-year-old Schuneman, died in the July 24 crash in a wooded area on the 3100 block of North Shore Drive in Orono.

James Blue, 51, had been charged with two counts of 3rd-degree murder, but at a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, it emerged he had agreed to a deal that has seen the murder charges dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

James Blue

James Blue

Per FOX 9's Paul Blume, he's now facing seven-and-a-half-years imprisonment.

A statement issued by Philip Sieff and Robert Bennett, the lawyers representing the Motzko and Schuneman families, said: "Today’s guilty plea by Mr. Blue is but the next step in achieving justice for Mack and Sam.

"While the families are relieved to avoid the trauma of a trial, they remain steadfastly committed to holding Mr. Blue accountable and securing full and complete justice for Mack and Sam. At this time, the families have no further comment.”

Reconstruction found that Blue was traveling as fast at 100 mph on curving roads in the lead-up to the crash. 

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Blue had a blood-alcohol concentration of approximately 0.20 when he was tested after the crash. The Minnesota limit is 0.08.

Marijuana gummies and "crushed up white pills and green capsules" were found by hospital staff in Blue's pocket, the complaint alleges. Witnesses also told police that Blue had eaten gummies and was taking shots of alcohol, according to charges.

Charges stated that Blue was "attempting to show off or impress" the two young men. Before taking them for the ride, Blue allegedly told Motzko and Schuneman, "You guys need to live your life to the fullest because all of a sudden you blink and you're 40 one day." 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 7.45.25 PM

Four shot in alley near St. Cloud State campus

Police say an argument led to gunfire.


Acclaimed investigative podcast 'In the Dark' canceled by American Public Media

The Peabody Award-winning investigative podcast earned national acclaim.

Screenshot of the incident showing a teacher throw a hockey stick at a second-grade student at a Sherburne County school.

Former MN teacher charged for knocking student's tooth out with hockey stick

Kimberly June Neubauer has been charged with third-degree assault and is no longer a teacher at Princeton Public Schools.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 11.56.59 AM

Guthrie cancels 'Emma' performances, Illusion Theater delays premiere due to COVID

The pandemic is continuing to leave theater seats empty in the Twin Cities.

Ellie Ragin

Property owners asked to monitor river shorelines in ongoing search for Elle Ragin

Investigators are focusing their search on the Mississippi River in Stearns County.

Shots fired scene

Over 100 shots fired in Brooklyn Center, no injuries reported

Police said they haven't learned of any injuries as of Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 12.37.52 PM

Unleashed, off-duty police K-9 attacks boy in Isanti

The attack involved an Anoka County Sheriff's Office K-9, named Bubba.

Michael Bruner

New 'Big Brother' season includes a Minnesota attorney

Michael Bruner will compete against 15 other houseguests starting Wednesday night.

grain bin, farming

Man, 34, dies after being found unresponsive in grain bin

The incident happened in Stearns County Tuesday afternoon.


Laser pointed at plane descending into MSP Airport

Nationwide, laser pointing incidents rose 42% last year compared to 2020.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 9.48.02 AM

Gray's restaurant in Dinkytown to close in July

The restaurant, formerly known as Loring Pasta Bar, had only been open since late 2020.


James Blue

Murder charges filed in crash that killed Mack Motzko, Sam Schuneman

The 51-year-old Orono man is accused of being drunk and driving nearly 100 mph.

Motzko and Schuneman

Orono man criminally charged for crash that killed Motzko, Schuneman

He's accused of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he crashed.

Motzko and Schuneman

Driver in crash that killed Motzko, Schundeman released from custody

He was released from custody pending criminal charges, according to jail records.

Motzko and Schuneman

Driver in Orono crash that killed Motzko, Schuneman is in custody

The 51-year-old reportedly turned himself into police Wednesday.

Motzko and Schuneman

Police: Orono death crash driver was over twice legal limit, going almost 100 mph

An update has been provided by the Orono Police Department.

Motzko and Schuneman

Driver charged in fatal Orono crash released from jail after posting $500K bail

James Blue posted $500,000 bail ahead of his first court appearance.

James Blue

Driver that crashed and killed Motzko, Schuneman sentenced to prison

James Blue was twice over the legal limit and was going as fast as 99 mph seconds before the crash last year.

Bob Motzko

Mack Motzko, son of Gophers coach Bob Motzko, dies in car crash

The crash happened late Saturday night in Orono.