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Morris man found guilty of four felony DWI counts

MORRIS, Minn. -- A 34-year-old Morris man was found guilty of four counts of felony driving while intoxicated following a jury trial in Stevens County on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Stevens County Attorney Aaron K. Jordan reports.

Justin Michael Rizzio was also found not guilty of felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, guilty of gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation, and guilty of misdemeanor fleeing a peace officer on foot, Jordan reported.

On Monday, April 4, 2011, Investigator Jason Reed with the Morris Police Department was on the west side of Morris investigating an animal complaint. While standing near the intersection of Park Avenue and 10th Street he observed a pick-up truck heading eastbound well in excess of the speed limit. Reed tried to stop the vehicle by putting his hand up and stepping into the street. Rizzio slowed down, looked directly at Reed and drove through the intersection without stopping.

Reed pursued Rizzio to the Green River Apartments. The lights and siren from his squad vehicle had been activated prior to entering the parking lot of the apartment complex. Rizzio stopped his vehicle and exited from the driver's side. He stopped for a second and looked directly at Reed.  He then ran into the apartment building. Reed followed and found him in the building.

Rizzio told Reed that he fled because he was on probation and his license was revoked. Reed could smell an odor of alcohol coming from Rizzio and he appeared intoxicated. Rizzio acknowledged to Reed that he had been drinking. Rizzio was arrested and his blood alcohol level was tested. He tested at a .16 which is twice the legal limit of .08. The test was done at 6:28 p.m.

A sentencing date has not been set. Rizzio has prior DWI convictions both in Minnesota and Oregon. He is currently on probation in Pope County for a felony DWI. He has a 42 month stayed prison sentence in that matter and is facing the possibility of revocation of the stay and commitment to prison. He also faces a mandatory prison sentence on this matter.

The Honorable Gerald J. Seibel presided over the trial. The Morris Police Department was the lead law enforcement agency on the investigation of this matter. The Stevens County Sheriff's Office and University of Minnesota-Morris Campus Police assisted.