Man arrested for fatal hit-and-run changes plea

Published 1:59 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

The man charged in the late December death of Melissa Rack has agreed to plead guilty in the case.

Darin Douglas Finley, 35, was charged with two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide in January of 2023, after he was arrested for hitting and killing Rack late in the evening of Dec. 30, 2022.

The felony counts were related to leaving the scene of a crash and the other was for operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration above .08. 

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Finley initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but then at a hearing on Monday morning, a petition was filed to enter a guilty plea for leaving the scene of an accident.

According to the plea agreement, in exchange for the guilty plea the state will recommend a dispositional departure from sentencing guidelines and a stay of execution of sentence with probation to the Department of Corrections at a level deemed appropriate as well as additional steps related to terms of probation, no additional jail time, a fine at the court’s discretion, mandatory minimums apply on DWI file and all other terms open for argument at sentencing.

Finley’s official sentencing will be on Dec. 21

According to the court complaint, Finley was arrested not long after police responded to a person lying in the roadway of Oakland Place SE near Oakland Avenue SE at around 11:18 p.m. on Dec. 30.

Officers responding to the scene found Rack not breathing and with no pulse. They began CPR on her until Mayo Clinic Ambulance arrived. She was later pronounced dead at Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin.

Witnesses at the scene allegedly observed Finley at the scene including one who said she saw a male kneel down as if to pick something up and then run back to the vehicle and speed off eastbound on Oakland Avenue East.

When officers eventually made contact with Finley, he told them he had no idea what happened and that he did not remember driving. He also allegedly told a family member earlier that he had hit a deer.

Finley also agreed to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of DWI related to a separate incident in which he was arrested for in February of 2023. His license had been suspended prior to that because of the Rack case.

Sentencing for that case will also be on Dec. 21.