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MN Court Denies Appeal For Woman Committed After Crash

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Leah Graeber, shown after the July 18 crash that killed 11-year-old Joe Balistreri. (credit: CBS)

Leah Graeber, shown after the July 18 crash that killed 11-year-old Joe Balistreri. (credit: CBS)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -– The Minnesota Supreme Court denied the appeal of woman who was civilly committed after killing a Burnsville boy in a head-on crash has been ruled incompetent to proceed with her defense.

Last March, Leah Graeber, of Savage, Minn., was found incompetent to stand trial in the death of 11-year-old Joey Balistreri.

Graeber had been charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide and controlled substance crime in the July 18 Burnsville crash.

Because she was found not competent to stand trial in March 2011, and then once again last September, Graeber was sent to the maximum-security psychiatric hospital in St. Peter.

On Tuesday, the state supreme court denied reviewing Graeber’s appeal that challenged her civil commitment.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said when a defendant is found incompetent, they must wait until the individual is determined to be competent to proceed.

According to the complaint, Graeber was driving along Highway 13, west of Washburn Avenue when she crossed the median and crashed head-on into an SUV carrying four members of the Balistreri family.

Police say she was going anywhere from 78 to 90 or 100 miles per hour when she struck the other vehicle.

Troopers found an open beer bottle and drug paraphernalia in Graeber’s car, including traces of cocaine and THC. However, Backstrom said it appeared Graeber was not under the influence at the time of the crash.

The July 2010 crash also badly injured the victim’s father, Geoff Balistreri.

In August 2010, Graeber called WCCO-TV and claimed she passed out at the wheel after taking a psychiatric drug and felt like she was in a trance right before the accident.

In that same call, Graeber also said she sometimes thinks she’s God and felt blessed to be in the accident. She said she knew that Balistreri was a very special boy. She said she was upset because ignorant people no longer believed she was God.

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