Judge sentences Bakdash to 40 years in prison for hit-and-run

The Hennepin County attorney previously guessed the sentence would be 25 years in prison.
Family members of University of Minnesota student Ben Van Handel speak with members of the media after a judge sentenced Timothy Bakdash to 40 years in prison on Monday morning at the Hennepin County Government Center.
April 17, 2012

A Hennepin County judge sentenced Timothy Bakdash Monday to 40 years in prison for the April 2011 hit-and-run that killed a University of Minnesota student and injured two others.

Judge Daniel Mabley issued a longer sentence than the 38-year minimum sentence Hennepin County prosecution requested. County attorney Mike Freeman had previously guessed Bakdash would get 25 years in prison.

Bakdash will have to serve 27 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, Hennepin County attorney Spokesperson Chuck Laszewski said.

Early last month, the jury in the case unanimously found Bakdash, 30, guilty of second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder and six other counts.

On April 15, 2011, Bakdash left the Library Bar in Dinkytown and drove the wrong way down one-way Fifth Street Southeast. He continued onto the sidewalk and hit four pedestrians, injuring three. One of the victims, Ben Van Handel, 23, a University student, died six days later.

Families of the victims made impact statements in the courtroom before the sentencing.

Ann Van Handel, Ben Van Handel’s mother, said she used to think about her son graduating, getting married and having children one day.

“Ben was not to have any of these miracles because of the selfish, childish rage of Tim Bakdash,” she said.

She asked the judge to give Bakdash “the strictest sentencing possible.” 

Steve Van Handel, Ben Van Handel’s father, called his son his “right-hand man” and said he would “never have the pleasure of watching opening day with my son.”

“Everybody who knew you knew this day would come,” Mabley said to Bakdash before announcing the sentencing.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino had asked for a 19-year sentence.

“He admits that he should go to prison. It’s just the matter of degree,” Tamburino said.

“I’m happy with the outcome. It was better than we were expecting,” said Leslie Falk, a University senior who was with Ben Van Handel when Bakdash’s car hit him.

Van Handel’s parents said they were happy with the outcome of the sentencing in a press conference after the sentencing.

“He’ll be older than us when he gets out, so we’re happy,” Ann Van Handel said.

She said the Student Union and Activities board told them last year the name of the Outstanding Student Service Award would be changed to the Ben Van Handel Outstanding Student Employee Service award.

“It’s quite an honor that students going forward will receive the award,” Ann Van Handel said.

The award will be given out April 26 to five student employees who showed “exemplary work,” said Maggie Towle, the program’s director.

Towle said Ben Van Handel was one of their most outstanding student employees.

Many of Ben Van Handel’s family and friends attending the sentencing wore blue T-shirts bearing a “B” on the front, with initials “BVH” on the back along with the day Van Handel was born — March 28, 1988 — and the day he died — April 21, 2011.

“When I graduate in May, and I walk across the stage, I’ll be walking for Ben,” his sister, Rachel Van Handel, said.

Associated Content

Comment Policy

The Minnesota Daily welcomes thoughtful discussion on all of our stories, but please keep comments civil and on-topic. Read our full guidelines here.
Minnesota Daily Serving the University of Minnesota Community since 1900