Murder by pushing? Charges say man shoved victim into traffic

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A Little Canada man is charged with second-degree murder after authorities say he intentionally shoved a man into the path of an oncoming car.

KSTP reports the criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County alleges that Michael John Merten III pushed Robert Alan Hilgren in front of a vehicle during an altercation on Rice Street Wednesday night.

The complaint says Hilgren's son, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday, had a run-in with Merten, 41. The son called his parents, who were in the area, to tell them he was being chased by "a big, crazy dude" who wanted to beat him up, FOX 9 says.

When Robert Hilgren, 47, arrived on the scene a shoving match ensued on Rice Street, which is a major thoroughfare connecting Little Canada with St. Paul, to the south. During the confrontation Hilgren fell to the pavement and was run over by an approaching car, causing injuries that were fatal.

As the Star Tribune reports, Hilgren's wife told authorities Merten waited for the car to approach before pushing her husband into its path.

Another witness told police that Hilgren had stumbled after he was pushed and it did not appear that Merten intentionally pushed him in front of the car, KSTP says.

FOX reports the driver of the vehicle that struck Hilgren was sober and not speeding.

The complaint says witnesses saw Merten waiting nearby and showing no emotion after Hilgren was run over. But when police arrived Merten fled. He was later arrested at his father's home in a mobile home park.

According to the Pioneer Press, both men have criminal histories. Merten's began at age 17, when he led police on a high-speed chase that ended in Hudson, Wisconsin. Two years later he was convicted of fleeing a police officer and drunken driving after a chase from Bloomington to St. Paul that reached speeds of 115 m.p.h., the newspaper says.

Merten is charged with second-degree unintentional murder. He's being held on $250,000 bond, WCCO says.

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