Junkie driver kills two children, switches places with identical twin, causing investigative confusion

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A mugshot of Sarah Beth Petersen in 2016, the identical twin of Samantha Jo Petersen. (left) and a mugshot of Samantha Jo Petersen in 2015 (right). — Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office
A mugshot of Sarah Beth Petersen in 2016, the identical twin of Samantha Jo Petersen. (left) and a mugshot of Samantha Jo Petersen in 2015 (right). — Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office

In a tragic incident in rural Minnesota, identical twins Samantha Jo Petersen and Sarah Beth Petersen, face charges related to a deadly collision with an Amish horse-drawn carriage, Fox News reported. 

The case is confusing as authorities allege the sisters switched places to mislead investigators.

On September 25, 2023, Samantha, allegedly driving under the influence, collided with the carriage, resulting in the death of 7-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller. 

Two other siblings, aged 9 and 13, were injured in the crash. Shockingly, it was Sarah who initially claimed responsibility at the scene, leading to a convoluted investigation.

Samantha, with an expired driver's license and no insurance, now faces 21 counts, including vehicular homicide, DWI, and leaving the scene of an accident. Meanwhile, Sarah is due in court on April 1, facing 16 felony charges, including aiding and abetting.

The sisters' alleged motive for the switch revolves around Samantha's drug use at the time of the crash. With burnt marijuana blunts and evidence of methamphetamine use discovered, Samantha feared imprisonment. Sarah, who had recently been in prison, may have felt obligated to take the fall for her sister.

Legal experts acknowledge the circumstantial case against Samantha but note challenges due to the absence of high-speed impact. However, the negligence threshold under Minnesota law might favour the prosecution. David Gelman, a former prosecutor turned defence attorney, suggests that the sisters' attempt to switch drivers could anger the jury.

As the investigation unfolds, potential challenges arise, including contaminated crime scenes and the sisters' alleged interference. The defence may capitalise on these points, emphasising the need to meticulously examine the case.