By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Emotions ran high in a Chisago County courtroom Thursday as family pleaded to get justice for Alan Geisenkoetter.

The 8-year-old died last winter when Eric Coleman crashed into him on a snowmobile. Tests showed Coleman’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

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Wearing T-shirts that say “Little Alan’s Warriors,” family members spent an hour and a half recounting the life of a boy who loved to hunt, fish and help around the house.

“Living every day without seeing Alan’s smile, hearing his laugh, makes my heart break a little more,” said mom Ellie Geisenkoetter.

Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. (credit: CBS)

Coleman sat in an orange jumpsuit and wiped away tears as he listened to 10 statements, each one as heartfelt as the one before.

“It’s hard being his sister and having a room next to him and not hearing him come into my room every night,” said Alan’s sister Lexi Nolan. “Knowing that I don’t have my brother anymore, it’s hard.”

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A video was played that showed a boy with freckles and a big smile. Afterwards, the judge sentenced Coleman to 12-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of Alan Geisenkoetter — a senseless act that Coleman says he’s sorry for.

Eric Coleman (credit: CBS)

“It’s something I’m going to have to work on every day of my life for the rest of my life. It will never go away. This event is something that the Geisenkoetters will carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Coleman said.

Coleman said he’s hoping his family and the Geisenkoetters can move on, but they were words that Alan’s family wasn’t ready to hear.

“He ruined our lives. How do you get that back? You’ll never be the same,” said Ellie.

The judge said in addition to victim impact statements, she took into account the fact that Coleman had been arrested four times for drinking and driving and did not have a valid driver’s license during the night of the crash. A legal loophole allowed Coleman to operate a snowmobile even though his license had been revoked three times before the crash.

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State lawmakers closed that loophole by passing Alan’s Law last year.

John Lauritsen