Man takes plea agreement for 2015 high-speed chase

Published 1:01 pm Sunday, September 4, 2016

The man who led law enforcement on a 30-mile high-speed chase on Sept. 18, 2015, reached a plea agreement in Mower County District Court Friday.

Jerry Lee Castilleja, 45, pleaded guilty to a felony count for fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, while felonies for first-degree DWI-refusal to submit to a chemical test, first-degree DWI-under the influence of a controlled substance and fifth-degree drug possession, along with a gross misdemeanor charge for driving after cancellation, were dismissed.

Castilleja was arrested Sept. 18 after leading police on a chase that reached speeds of 90 to 100 mph and passed through several communities, as well as a corn field, before ending in Blooming Prairie.

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According to a court complaint, the chase started at 7:43 a.m. when a Mower County deputy stopped Castilleja in a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup on Highway 16 in Dexter Township at the Interstate 90 on-ramp for not wearing a seat belt. According to a police report, Castilleja told the deputy he was in a hurry and on his way to see his stepfather at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin.

He gave the deputy a false name, told police he did not have his license on him, and he said the truck belonged to him. After the deputy spoke with him and went to check the information, Castilleja got out of his car and walked toward the deputy, who ordered Castilleja to get back in his truck, according to the report. That’s when Casstilleja took off.

The vehicle routinely hit speeds of 90 and 100 mph as Castilleja drove onto westbound I-90. Castilleja forced other drivers onto the shoulder of the highway as he swerved in and out of traffic. He exited onto County Road 20 and drove west onto 220th Street. Castilleja turned north on County Road 19 and then west on 230th Street, then north on 600th Avenue. At one point, he briefly turned left and drove into a mature corn field before returning to 600th Avenue and continuing north.

Castilleja clipped the front of a deputy’s squad car, causing moderate damage, driving at a high speed, according to the report. He then headed toward Brownsdale on County Road 2. Castilleja slowed down for a school bus, which was stopped at the intersection of County Road 2 and Highway 56, then accelerated west toward Lansing at speeds around 100 mph. He then headed toward Blooming Prairie, where he successfully avoided stop sticks on Highway 218.

When entering a school zone, the deputy advised officers to stop pursuit and continued to monitor Castilleja’s location. According to the police report, a large front end loader operated by nearby construction crew suddenly turned directly into Castilleja’s path and the vehicles collided.

Castilleja resisted arrest and deputies had to shock him with a Taser. Deputies found a small bag of methamphetamine in Castilleja’s truck, according to the report.

The pursuit covered 30.6 miles.

This isn’t the first time Castilleja has been charged with fleeing officers. Minnesota court records show Castilleja faced charges for fleeing officers in 1995 in Rice County before he was convicted for fleeing officers in 2002 in Rice County and in 2012 in Steele County. He’s also been convicted of several other crimes, including driving while intoxicated, driving without a license and misdemeanor domestic abuse.

He’s been convicted of crimes in Mower, Steele, Olmsted, Nobles, Rice and Goodhue counties. He also had an outstanding warrant in Dodge County for contempt of court/failure to register.