Man in fatal hit-and-run case will head to trial after withdrawing guilty plea

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Darin Douglas Finley, the man accused of striking and killing Melissa Rack with his vehicle  in December of 2022, and then fled the scene has withdrawn a plea of guilty in the case and will now head to trial.

Finley, 36, agreed to plead guilty to felony criminal vehicular homicide-driver who causes an accident and flees the scene in September, however, a plea to court for probation rather than a prison sentence was turned down.

During a hearing Wednesday in Mower County District Court, Finley amended his plea once again back to not guilty. A pretrial has been scheduled for May 10 with a jury trial scheduled to begin May 20.

Email newsletter signup

According to court documents, Finley allegedly struck Rack late in the evening on Dec. 30, 2022. She was found laying on the roadway of Oakland Place SE near Oakland Avenue SE at around 11:18 p.m. not breathing and with no pulse.

Life saving efforts at the scene and at Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Austin were unsuccessful. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

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. 

Just under two months later, and out on bail, Finley was again arrested and charged with DWI and driving after suspension.

He was sentenced Wednesday to two years supervised probation in that case and fined $300 for the DWI charge. He must follow several conditions. Failure to do so could result in nearly a year of jail time in the Mower County Jail.