6 months in jail for St. Paul motorcyclist who left girlfriend dead on interstate
A St. Paul man whose girlfriend fell off the back of his motorcycle has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of illicit drugs and alcohol and moving her body to the shoulder of the interstate in Forest Lake before riding away.
Myles W. Eckman, 25, entered his plea Monday in Washington County District Court to criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Ena M. Bhatia, 21, of St. Paul, on Nov. 18, 2016.
Eckmans plea deal with the prosecution calls for 180 days in jail, minus credit for time served while under arrest, a stayed four-year prison sentence and up to 10 years of probation.
The agreement, subject to a judges approval on April 2 at sentencing, also calls for Eckman to perform 180 hours of community service, and complete and abide by a chemical dependency evaluation.
Defense attorney said Bhatias family agreed to the terms of the plea deal.
My client is very satisfied, said attorney Eric Olson. Being held accountable for his significant others death was hard to swallow.
Eckman and Bhatia were heading north on his Harley-Davidson about 4:40 a.m. when she fell off the back. State troopers and police officers spotted Bhatias body facedown on the right shoulder of Interstate 35.
A passing driver told law enforcement that he saw the motorcycle off to the side and someone standing over what turned out to be Bhatias body.
Traffic cameras captured Bhatia falling off the back of the motorcycle. Eckman was seen circling back and then riding away.
Late that morning, Eckman was located in a pole barn in Columbus by law enforcement after being seen by a witness pushing his motorcycle into a pond. He asked Anoka County sheriffs deputies about his girlfriend and explained what happened on the interstate.
At the Forest Lake Police Department, Eckman said he had been drinking tequila that night in a St. Paul bar, then he and Bhatia left their house for Mora, Minn. He admitted using methamphetamine and marijuana.
He also admitted knowing Bhatia fell off his motorcycle, checking on her and leaving.
A witness reported seeing Eckman move Bhatia out of the lane of traffic and onto the shoulder. Blood left at the scene confirmed that to investigators.
Blood tests revealed marijuana and methamphetamine in Eckmans system, and methamphetamine in Bhatias system. She also had a blood alcohol content of 0.26 percent, indicating a severe state of intoxication. Her injuries included skull fractures and many other broken bones, cuts and bruises.
Paul Walsh 612-673-4482