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Prosecutor: Suspect Hit Wrong Man In Fatal Hit-And-Run

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Ben Van Handel died after being struck in a hit-and-run accident on April 15. (credit: CBS)

Ben Van Handel died after being struck in a hit-and-run accident on April 15. (credit: CBS)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors say a Wisconsin man who was mowed down in an act of revenge near the University of Minnesota was actually not the suspect’s intended target, and may have been killed in a case of mistaken identity.

Timothy Bakdash, 29, of Roseville, hit the wrong person, Charles Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, told The St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/iJoXhb) for a story published Friday.

Authorities had initially said Backdash intended to hit Benjamin Van Handel, 23, of Appleton, Wis., on April 15 after the two got into an argument. They said Bakdash used his car to hit Van Handel.

“Basically, what the investigation has been able to find is that Van Handel was with people all night, he was never in a fight, he was never in an argument,” Laszewski said.

“Bakdash has said he was in a fight and by God he was going to get some revenge and he thought Van Handel walking down the street was the guy,” Laszewski said. “Mistaken identity. So there you have it.”

He said police are still trying to find out who Bakdash argued with that night.

Prosecutors said Bakdash was just as liable whether he intended to kill Van Handel or someone else.

The revelation came after a brief court hearing Thursday in which prosecutors agreed to give the defense transcripts from the grand jury that indicted Bakdash.

After the hearing, defense attorney Joseph Tamburino said he was waiting for more information before forming a defense strategy.

Bakdash has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. In addition to killing Van Handel, he’s accused of hitting two women who were on the sidewalk.

Bakdash is in custody on $1 million bail.

Van Handel was a month away from graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in economics. He died six days after the incident. The two women were seriously injured.

Bakdash’s mother, Diane Bakdash, 66, also has been charged in the incident. She faces a felony count of being an accomplice to a crime after the fact, for allegedly telling her son to get rid of the damaged car and signing the title so he could sell it to a friend, who called.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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