AUSTIN, Minn. – A woman accused of attempted murder after a hit-and-run collision is pleading not guilty.
Tori Jersusha-Ann Ward, 20 of Dodge Center, is charged with 1st and 2nd degree attempted murder and 2nd degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Austin police say she hit a 19-year-old man at the intersection of 2nd Avenue SE and 1st Street SE on July 19 and then drove off.
The victim told officers he had broken up with Ward the evening of July 18 and she had been following him around for several hours while he was on his skateboard. The victim says he was in the middle of the road and tried to avoid Ward’s car but believes she intentionally ran into him at about 45 miles per hour. The victim was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin for treatment of substantial injuries and has since been released. Police arrested Ward on July 23.
At 10 am Monday Ward stood in judge Jeffrey Kritzer courtroom and pled not guilty to all charges.
Jenny Justice has known Ward for 6 years and the victim for 3 years.
“Tori hasn't had a very stable life,” Justice said. “She hasn't had very good role models in her life."
She further explained that over the years she has formed a close bond with Ward. She says Ward has lived a tough life and the system has failed her.
"She was abandoned at 16,” Justice said. “When she was 16 years old and homeless. Given different situations and circumstance, this wouldn't have happened."
Her trial is now set to begin on January 6, 2020.