Witnesses: Nelson was in bars before assault

Published 10:08 am Thursday, May 22, 2014

By Dan Nienaber

The Free Press

MANKATO — Police officers are gathering surveillance video in an attempt to determine if a 20-year-old former University of Minnesota quarterback was drinking in downtown bars with his underage girlfriend before he was allegedly involved in an assault May 11.

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Witnesses have told investigators that Philip Nelson and his girlfriend, Malorie Veroeven, 19, were allegedly seen drinking in more than one downtown bar, Director of Public Safety Todd Miller said Wednesday. Miller did not say which establishments because they are still gathering evidence.

Miller said Veroeven was cited for underage drinking after the assault, but the citation had not been processed at the Blue Earth County court administrator’s office as of Wednesday afternoon. The records division of the Mankato Department of Public Safety had record of Veroeven being cited May 11. Legal drinking age is age 21 or older.

Police suspected Nelson and Veroeven had been drinking when they talked to them after another man, 24-year-old Isaac Kolstad, was found lying unconscious in the mall area between Blue Bricks Bar and Eatery and the Cherry Street parking ramp. Nelson was arrested because witnesses said he had kicked Kolstad in the head after he was lying on the ground.

A man accused of punching Kolstad in the face and knocking him out ran from the scene. After watching surveillance video and talking to more witnesses, police later identified Trevor Stenner Shelley, 21, of St. Peter as a suspect. He was arrested May 12.

Surveillance video also showed Kolstad struck Nelson in the back during a heated argument that Kolstad’s friend, Samuel Thompson, was attempting to break up. Kolstad was walking away when he was hit and fell to the ground, police reported.

Kolstad remains hospitalized in critical condition and on life support since the assault. He has had more than one surgery, including one where a portion of his brain was removed, his family has reported.

It would have been police procedure to measure Nelson’s blood-alcohol concentration and hospital procedure to acquire Kolstad’s BAC, Miller said. A preliminary breath testing device, which are used by patrol officers to test whether a suspected drunken driver should be brought in for a breathalyzer test, was likely used to measure Nelson’s BAC, Miller said.

Investigators are working to obtain surveillance videos from downtown bars to determine if Nelson and Veroeven had been served. It’s unlikely the server would be cited because it wasn’t a controlled sting and it could be difficult to prove, but the bar would be facing a strike, Miller said. One strike results in a fine, a second strike results an a problem-solving meeting, and a third strike can result in a liquor license being revoked by the City Council.

If Nelson was served, the bar or bars also could be facing civil litigation.

Ken White, the attorney representing the Kolstad family, wouldn’t comment on Kolstad’s situation. He did say, in general, that an assault can result in a bar being sued under Minnesota’s Civil Damages Act, commonly referred to as the Dram Shop Act.

—Distributed by MCT Information Services