Officer pulled them over for not wearing seat belts

    A Crookston woman was sentenced to 13 months in a Minnesota correctional facility after she and a Crookston man were pulled over with a vehicle full of drugs and paraphernalia. Jennifer Ruth (Wilder) Hjelle, 32, plead guilty to fifth-degree drug possession and was sentenced within weeks of the incident.

    According to court documents, on March 22 at approximately 1:48 p.m., a Crookston police officer was on routine patrol when he saw a silver Pontiac Montana van turn from Barrette Street onto Spruce Lane and the driver and passenger were not wearing seat belts. The officer pulled the vehicle over, who he found was registered to someone else, and immediately smelled marijuana as he approached the driver’s side. The officer noted that the driver, identified as Cody Robert Koester, 33, of Crookston, was visibly shaky, fumbled with his wallet, had bloodshot/watery eyes, pupils constricted, tremors in his eyes and cheeks, and slurred speech. Koester reportedly admitted to the officer that his license was expired, but the passenger, Hjelle, was able to provide proof of insurance for the vehicle.

    The criminal complaint said that Koester couldn’t tell the officer where they were coming from or where they were going. During a field sobriety test, the officer concluded that Koester was under the influence of a controlled substance and was placed under arrest.

    The officer also noted that he knew Hjelle was a drug user and was currently on supervised probation, so the Tri-County Community Corrections probation office was contacted and Hjelle would be brought in for a urine sample.

    Officers soon thereafter searched the vehicle and found multiple blue plastic containers with pills, green leafy substance, crystal residue, a crystal rock on the floor board, a straw with crystals and residue on it, a crystal rock on the passenger seat, a backpack with multiple THC products from Colorado in it, and an open 1.75 liter bottle of whiskey, said the complaint.

    During field tests, residue on the straw tested positive for methamphetamine, the THC products weighed more than 300 grams and there were no tax stamps affixed to any of the items.

    Koester was transported to the Northwest Regional Corrections Center and officers applied for an issued warrant to get a blood or a urine sample from Koester. A TCCC agent had an apprehension and detention order issued for Hjelle because the urine sample came back positive for methamphetamine and oxycodon.

    During a statement the next day about the incident, Koester said he borrowed a friend’s car, picked up Hjelle, went to Todd’s Tire to get a tire fixed, went for a drive around town and in the country behind the Crookston Sports Center, then was stopped by the cops back in town. Officers knew Koester had driven within 300 feet of three city parks and one elementary school based on the route given.

    Koester has prior convictions in Minnesota including controlled substance sales and DWI. In North Dakota, Koester has prior convictions including theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, unauthorized use of a vehicle, being an accomplice to illegal killing of big game, and his driver’s license was revoked in 2014 for DWI and controlled substance convictions. Hjelle has prior convictions of DWI and controlled substance possession in the third and fifth degree.