“It’s A Challenging Case”: Twins Pull A “Switcheroo” After One Of Them Is Involved In Fatal Car Crash

minnesota identical twins change places after fatal amish crash fb

Two children riding in an Amish buggy have been killed in a fatal crash. Identical twin sisters from Minnesota, USA, are now facing various charges, including vehicular homicide, after allegedly swapping places in the vehicle. As one twin is currently being accused of driving under the influence while the other has been attempting to take the blame, the case has been getting increasingly complex.

Authorities reportedly said the crash killed 7-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller and sent two of their siblings, ages 9 and 13, to the hospital.

35-year-old Samantha Jo Petersen from Kellogg, Minnesota, one of the accused twins, drove with an expired license and without insurance in her silver Toyota 4Runner at the time of the fatal accident, according to court documents obtained by Fox News.

Identical twins face charges in a fatal Amish buggy crash, with one accused of driving under the influence while the other takes the blame

Prosecutors’ new allegation that Jo Petersen was behind the wheel on September 25, 2023, when her motor vehicle slammed into the horse-drawn carriage, killing Wilma and Irma, changes the initial observation that it was her identical twin sister, Sarah Beth Petersen, who drove the vehicle, as she had originally taken responsibility at the scene.

The twins had allegedly pulled off the switcheroo because Jo Petersen was high on drugs at the time of the collision and was scared she’d be sent to prison, according to court documents.

“It’s A Challenging Case”: Twins Pull A “Switcheroo” After One Of Them Is Involved In Fatal Car Crash

Beth Petersen had recently been in prison as well, according to the filings, and she may have felt she owed her sister a favor for taking care of her kids while she was locked up, as per Fox News.

Responding officers allegedly found “a couple of burnt marijuana blunts” and a tin can of pot in the twins’ crashed vehicle. Additionally, investigators later found evidence that Jo Petersen was also using methamphetamine.

An officer left his recorder running and walked away during the investigation, allegedly recording Jo Petersen telling her sister: “I think one of the guys is onto me, but I really don’t care … there’s no way they would ever know the difference between the two of us, so they can’t tell.”

Prosecutors alleged Samantha Jo Petersen, not her twin sister, was driving during the fatal crash

Detectives allegedly found damning evidence in a text exchange between Jo Petersen and someone, who investigators have identified as “DH,” that said, in part: “I don’t think you realize that I did that…I hit that Amish buggy and killed two people…made Sarah come there and take the fall for it so I wouldn’t go to prison,” as per Fox News.

Moreover, detectives allegedly found evidence that the suspect did searches on her phone for phrases that included “What happens if you get in an accident with an Amish buggy and kill two people?”

“It’s A Challenging Case”: Twins Pull A “Switcheroo” After One Of Them Is Involved In Fatal Car Crash

Jo Petersen has a prior record of charges, including at least two prior Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrests and giving a false name to law enforcement, court records showed. 

Police had reportedly spent months building the case before announcing charges, but, as per one expert, the incriminating evidence may now not be as robust as initially presumed.

Sheriff John DeGeorge told local media in February that dozens of charges had been filed against the sisters after a “lengthy investigation” found suspicious “inconsistencies” that later led to the unraveling of the alleged plot.

DeGeorge recalled: “Sarah was on scene a short time before our first deputy arrived.

“That allowed them to come up with this story where Sarah would take responsibility for the crash and start to mislead the investigation from that very point.”

Detectives found damning texts and searches on Samantha’s phone, challenging initial assumptions

A witness had reportedly described the driver of the SUV that hit the buggy as a blonde woman wearing a Hy-Vee shirt.

Witnesses said a second woman, who looked a lot like the driver, was also at the scene but “just sort of appeared,” Fox 9 reported.

“It’s A Challenging Case”: Twins Pull A “Switcheroo” After One Of Them Is Involved In Fatal Car Crash

Jo Petersen is now facing 21 counts, including vehicular homicide, DWI, and leaving the scene of an accident. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 25.

On the other hand, Beth Petersen is due to appear in court on April 1 on 16 felony charges, including aiding and abetting and trying to take responsibility for a crime.

David Gelman, a former prosecutor and now a defense attorney, told Fox News: “There’s a huge circumstantial case as it relates to impaired operation.”

According to the criminal law expert, because the crash didn’t involve high speeds, the case might present a challenge for prosecutors during the trial.

In Minnesota, it is easier to establish negligence, which is a failure to exercise reasonable care, than it is to prove recklessness, which involves a conscious disregard for a substantial risk.

Gelman explained: “It’s a challenging case from a vehicular homicide standpoint, for the state, I think, but [the suspects] certainly didn’t do a lot to help themselves with the antics of trying to switch drivers at the scene.”

Samantha faces multiple charges, with a court date on March 25, while Sarah is charged with aiding and abetting

He continued: “Sometimes, juries get really, really angry and upset when they see that type of shenanigans.

“The case against Sarah Petersen, the sober sister, could be even harder to prosecute as charged, he said, but authorities could be looking to pressure her into a plea deal to secure her testimony against Samantha Petersen.”

“It’s A Challenging Case”: Twins Pull A “Switcheroo” After One Of Them Is Involved In Fatal Car Crash

The defense attorney added: “She can’t really be proven to have done more than hinder the investigation.

“She was not the driver. She may have given false statements, which again goes to hindering.”

“Hindering” refers to the act of obstructing or impeding something, such as an investigation or legal process.

Gelman also pointed to the case’s affidavit (a written statement made under oath), which states that one of the suspects moved a vehicle during the initial investigation.

He explained: “The scene was contaminated immediately by the women moving the scene, moving around willy nilly.

“As a defense attorney, I’m going to be pounding them… They did not protect that crime scene.

“At the end of the day, you have innocent people who are dead, and juries don’t like that.

“But the defense does have good talking points here.”

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