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Man who rolled out of police vehicle while in handcuffs pleads not guilty to two charges

MOUNT VERNON -- A Minnesota man allegedly fled from a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper by exiting from a moving law enforcement vehicle while he was handcuffed has pleaded not guilty to two charges.

Matthew Nelson, 18, of Wrenshall, Minn., was arrested March 19 after he was stopped by Trooper John Lord for speeding on Interstate 90 near Mount Vernon. Nelson appeared in court Tuesday at the Davison County Public Safety Center in Mitchell and pleaded not guilty to possessing methamphetamine and first-degree escape.

During the traffic stop, Lord allegedly found a small bag containing meth in Nelson's pocket.

According to court documents, Nelson allegedly attempted to escape from Lord's patrol vehicle on the drive back to Mitchell. Nelson was handcuffed behind his back, but managed to unfasten his seat belt and, when questioned by Lord, did not respond. Lord had started to pull over when Nelson allegedly thrust himself against the door, opened it and rolled out of the vehicle while it was still moving.

An ensuing foot pursuit ended quickly when Nelson attempted to jump a barbwire fence, but got caught on it and fell on his back, court documents say. Lord approached with his taser drawn and aimed at Nelson and, as other officers arrived, Nelson told Lord he would rather be shot than go to prison, court documents say.

Nelson is already on probation in another state and he believed the new arrest would lead to a prison sentence, court documents say.

Nelson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for each of the new charges. He is scheduled to stand trial in May.

Judge Tim Bjorkman denied a request Tuesday from Nelson to modify his bond and allow him to be released from jail on his own recognizance.