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Trial starts for man accused of striking and killing 3-year-old boy with his van

Two years after the death of 3-year-old Jack Larson in Merrifield, the man accused of striking the boy with his van is going on trial. 

Jury selection started Tuesday in Crow Wing County District Court for Sherman Frederick, 68, who is accused of driving the van that struck and killed Jack on May 9, 2009, on  County Road 3.

Frederick is charged with two counts of felony criminal vehicular homicide or operation, one count of misdemeanor reckless driving and one count of having no proof of insurance.

Frederick entered a guilty plea on March 29, 2010, to felony second-degree manslaughter but at his sentencing on May 6, 2010, withdrew his guilty plea because it resulted in Frederick losing his driving privileges for 10 years. At the time, Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan told the court that if case went to trial all plea negotiations were withdrawn and would not be offered again. Ryan also said if Frederick were found guilty at trial, he would ask the judge to incarcerate Frederick for the full sentence.

The criminal complaint filed in May of 2009, said about four vehicles were stopped in the northbound lane of Crow Wing County Road 3 in Merrifield and about five vehicles were stopped in the southbound lane to allow several children to cross to road. Four children were able to make it across. As Jack was crossing Frederick drove his van onto the shoulder to pass the stopped vehicles and struck Jack. 

Frederick told deputies that he did brake in an attempt to slow down, but later said he might have fallen asleep or that his diabetes may have caused him to black out.

In the amended complaint filed reflecting the March 29 plea agreement, Frederick had the data tested from his continuous positive airway pressure machine, often used by those suffering sleep apnea, and the machine was found to not be working properly. The complaint stated that Frederick admitted his lack of sleep created a situation whereby he should not have been driving as he would have trouble staying alert and in control of his van.