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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Repeat car thief sentenced for crash that killed St. Paul woman

Jennifer Cook said that her mother, Alison Annen, had a “wonderful spirit” and enjoyed life to the fullest. She liked traveling to the casino, listening to “oldies” and country music, quilting, fishing, and riding Harley-Davidson motorbikes when she was 60 years old and in excellent health.

“Above all else, she loved her children and grandchildren more than life itself,” Cook recounted in court on Friday in Ramsey County.

But her mother’s life and future with her family were “torn away” on January 7, Cook said the court, when Xia Her-Xiong “made the decision” to flee from a St. Paul police officer in a stolen automobile and smash into Annen’s vehicle, killing her.

Cook said that awaiting Her-sentence Xiong’s on Friday had been “total torture.” She said to Judge Joy Bartscher, “Your honor, it is finally his turn to suffer.”

Bartscher accepted Her-prior Xiong’s guilty pleas to criminal vehicular murder and criminal vehicular operation-causing significant bodily injury and sentenced him to a little over 11 years in prison, or 134 months, by imposing consecutive terms for the two crimes. He will be granted credit for the 62 days he has already spent in detention.

Two accusations were dismissed: criminal vehicular homicide-operating a motor vehicle with extreme carelessness and auto theft.

Bartscher asked Her-Xiong, 33, of Minneapolis, whether he want to address the courtroom before pronouncing the punishment. He apologized as he glanced toward the area where Annen’s family and friends were seated. “I hope that you can forgive me one day,” he added.

Cook said in an interview after the sentencing that, despite her satisfaction with consecutive terms, “there’s never enough prison time for justice. He will continue to enjoy his freedom upon release.”

Using a stolen vehicle

Her-Xiong ran a stop sign at the intersection of Atlantic Street and Minnehaha Avenue in the city’s Dayton’s Bluff area at 3 a.m.

Her-Xiong was traveling 61 mph in a 30-mph zone in a stolen Ford Focus. After seeing a police vehicle, he accelerated. After the crash, he and a passenger left the scene on foot.

After running the vehicle’s license plates, the police learned that the Focus had been reported stolen the day before by a mother who had left her car running as she went inside to drop up her kid.

The officer was at least five blocks behind the vehicle when Her-Xiong ran the stop sign and collided with Annen’s 2007 PT Cruiser. The cop engaged his emergency lights and siren at that point.

Annen and her longtime companion Kelly Burg were discovered wedged inside the PT Cruiser by the police. Annen was immobile, while Burg was hurt with three fractured ribs. The officer began CPR on Annen until medical personnel arrived and took over. She was declared deceased on the spot.

A female Focus passenger informed authorities, Her-Xiong had invited her out for the evening. She said that he picked her and her cousin up in Minneapolis, where they consumed alcohol together. She informed authorities that he was driving her home at the time of the accident and she was unaware that the vehicle was stolen.

Prior convictions

At the time of the collision, Her-Xiong had thirteen previous felony convictions going back to 2009, including seven for auto theft. He was also the subject of two current criminal proceedings and was on probation.

His most recent conviction occurred on October 12, 2020, when he pled guilty to aiding and abetting the theft of a trailer. The district judge of Ramsey County, Robert Awsumb, suspended the defendant’s 26-month jail term and sentenced him to one year in the county workhouse and three years of supervised probation, with credit for 206 days previously spent in imprisonment.

A little more than a month later, Her-Xiong fled the workhouse while on unsupervised parole. Five days later, he was apprehended and sent back to the workhouse under the same conditions.

Court documents indicate that on December 14, 2020, probation recommended that Her-Xiong be freed from the workhouse with 11 days remaining to serve because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Three days later, the recommendation was approved and Her-Xiong was placed on probation by Judge JaPaul Harris.

Rice Street locals

Annen was a member of the White Earth tribe and a lifetime inhabitant of Rice Street, according to her relatives.

She has three children and four grandchildren. Cook said that after her son Jacob Caroll was born, she went to Detroit Lakes to raise him away from the city. Annen came back to St. Paul and started living with Cook after his 18th birthday when he relocated to California.

Cook said that the sadness “cuts deep,” particularly when she learns that her family would no longer be able to create “simple” memories with her, such as family vacations, barbecues, and laughter.

She said, “My whole family has been in a state of mourning.” It has been a daily effort to keep all of our lives progressing.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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