Man accused in the death of Melissa Rack again changes plea back to guilty

Published 2:21 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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Darin Douglas Finley, the man accused of killing Melissa Rack in a fatal hit-and-run in December 2022, has once again agreed to plead guilty.

Finley, 37, agreed to a plea deal in Mower County District Court Monday for pleading guilty felony criminal vehicular homicide. According to court documents, as part of pleading guilty, the state agreed to recommend a dispositional departure, meaning the court could order something other than what is called for by guidelines. 

There would also be probation and a jail cap of 180 days with credit for time served. A fine could also be levied in the case.

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Official sentencing is set for Sept. 12.

It’s the second time Finley has agreed to plead guilty in the case. In September of 2023, he agreed to plead guilty to felony criminal vehicular homicide-driver who causes an accident and flees the scene, however, a plea to court for probation rather than a prison sentence was turned down.

Subsequently, Finley’s agreement to plead guilty was rescinded and the case was scheduled to go to trial this May.

Finley was convicted for striking 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 said they observed Finley at the scene including one who said they 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. 

Officers also noted that Finley appeared intoxicated. When asked how much he had to drink that day, Finley replied “that’s another question I don’t know,” and then refused a breath test.

A preliminary breath test taken later came back .063.