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Man accused in fatal Iron Range hit-and-run granted public defender

VIRGINIA, MN– The man accused of killing a toddler and injuring a teenager during a hit-and-run crash near Nashwauk has been granted a public defender.

According to court records, Jake Place, 39, appeared in a St. Louis County Courtroom in Virginia Monday, and a judge approved his request for a public defender.

Place was released from the St. Louis County Jail on bail August 2 by paying 10 percent of his $200,000 bail, under certain conditions, some of which included making all court appearances, not using drugs or alcohol, and not contacting the victims’ families.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, authorities responded around 1:17 p.m. to a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash on Highway 65 in Northeast Itasca Township, approximately 15 miles north of Nashwauk, on August 1.

Alexia Carroll, 16, of Nashwauk, was pushing her nephew, Logan Klennert, 2, also of Nashwauk, south on Highway 65 on the right shoulder.

Authorities say a southbound pickup crossed onto the shoulder, hitting the two from behind.

Klennert died at the scene, while Carroll was hospitalized with serious injuries. According to court documents, she may have to have her foot amputated.

Place was arrested in Nashwauk on the same day as the crash. While authorities say he seemed to pass several field sobriety tests, they are waiting on blood test results.

According to court documents, Place told authorities he was alone in the car at the time of the crash. He told authorities he thought he had hit an animal and told his wife that he thought he had fallen asleep at the wheel and hit a mailbox.

Briggs LeSavage

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