Identity-Swapping Twins Try To Get Buggy Crash Charges Dismissed

The Petersen sisters, who you might remember from the buggy-car crash which killed two Amish schoolgirls in Minnesota, are trying to avoid a trial.

Sarah and Samantha Petersen allegedly swapped identities so that one sister could take the blame instead of the other. Samantha was allegedly high on drugs when her vehicle hit the buggy and killed Irma (11) and Wilma (7) Miller last September.

Irma and Wilma Miller were killed in September after their buggy was struck by a vehicle driven by one of the Petersen sisters

Authorities believe Sarah arrived shortly after the accident and posed as her sister in order to take responsibility for the deaths of the children. From the Rochester Post-Bulletin:

PRESTON, Minn. — The twin sisters who face multiple felony charges related to a crash that claimed the lives of two Amish children last year, have filed motions to have their cases dismissed.

Samantha Petersen, 36, of Spring Valley faces 21 charges including eight felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide, eight counts of felony criminal vehicular operation, two gross misdemeanor counts of driving while impaired, and misdemeanor counts of failing to provide proof of insurance and careless driving.

Her twin sister, Sarah Beth Petersen, 36, of Spring Valley, faces 16 felony charges relating to aiding an offender and taking responsibility for criminal acts.

On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, attorneys for both women filed motions to have their cases dismissed.

Samantha Petersen and Sarah Beth Petersen

As far the charges of driving while impaired:

In the case of Samantha Petersen, the motion claims the state does not possess any evidence that she “was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any mood-altering substance including, but not limited to, alcohol or legal/illegal controlled substances. In addition, the evidence fails to establish probable cause that (Samantha Petersen) was negligent in the operation (of the vehicle involved in the crash).”

A blood sample was taken from Samantha on September 26th, which “showed the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine and Delta-9 THC.” But the accident happened on September 25th.

So I guess they’re trying to argue the drug use took place after the accident. There is also this as regards fleeing the scene:

The motion further states that charges related to fleeing the scene should be dismissed because evidence shows, the motion claims that Samantha Petersen “left the scene of the accident only after being given permission to do so by investigating officers.”

The girls’ father Menno Miller expressed a wish for an apology from whomever was driving

Recordings of the sisters

However, there is also a recording of the sisters discussing how the officers could not tell them apart. One of the sisters is heard saying “I think that one of the guys is on to me but I don’t really care…” and “there’s no way they would ever know the difference between the two of us so they can’t tell.”  So what about that?

The motion goes on to say Samantha Petersen’s statements made to her sister in the back of the police car were recorded surreptitiously, and are therefore a violation of her Miranda rights.

At the same time, there are reports of other statements, including one from Samantha to co-workers that she had killed two Amish children while high on meth, as well as from Sarah’s daughter, who told a social worker that her mother wasn’t actually driving. So I’m not sure how that factors into this.

What will happen?

Given my zero legal background, I have no idea what the chances are of this being dismissed, so can’t provide any comment on that. I can only say it’s a shame but I suppose unsurprising, given their histories, that this pair is taking this approach. The hearings on dismissing the charges will be held in August.

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    1. john

      I'd swap

      If this a state where they have liberal district atty they would probably get away with the crime. Look at what is happening across the country where people rob stores and the storekeeper fires and kills the robber and the storekeeper is charged with a crime for killing the robber. What was at one time what was right is now wrong and what was wrong is now right like in the book Animal House., Hopefully the DA will see through this ruse and correctly charge them. If they do have the charges dropped what is to stop them from doing this again and driving under the influence. We as a society need to examine ourselves as with all the liberation of drug laws are we making a better society or looking at a another way of making money from collecting tax money

      1. Jessica

        It’s not ok to rob someone but quite a bit worse to kill someone!!!!

        1. john


          In comment about shooting a robber of the store it was in a matter of self defense it was a store in New York City and the robber came in a threatened the store owner and in his defense he shot the robber I don’t think he want to kill him but he was protecting his own life. I was saying he shot him for no reason.

    2. K.D.

      Petersen Sisters

      Just one question: Wasn’t Samantha the one who was in
      trouble with the law not long before the deaths of the little
      Amish girls? And didn’t the judge in that case let her go?
      Maybe the judge is the one with blood on his hands? Sadly,
      people like the Petersen girls who prefer drugs to doing what
      is right (such as getting sober & staying sober) will continue to
      drive no matter what. Take her driver’s license away? If there
      are car keys sitting around the house and a car outside, she’ll
      snatch up those keys and go out driving anyway. The ONLY thing
      to keep her and others like her from killing other people is a seriously
      long prison sentence.

    3. John

      Swapping twins

      Incredible tragedy, it seems in today’s world “evil is good and good is evil” certainly a sign of the times. I trust the judge and or jury see clearly through this and justice prevails. But a warning to these two woman you will one day face the supreme judge, the Lord himself. What defence will you have then?

    4. Do people often take kitchen sinks about?

      This does seem to be about whether or not there is sufficient evidence to actually prove the matter adequately, and that does have to matter, regardless of whether a particular person is guilty in a particular case or not. The presumption of innocence is there for good reason, as are conventions about what you can and can’t do to obtain evidence. (Though, personally, I think the notion that you cannot record someone surreptitiously but can take a blood sample forcibly, really does seem rather inconsistent. Taking blood samples can make someone very ill, as I know to my cost, and it is an invasive breach of physical boundaries: I think people in a lot of Western countries would make quite a bit of fuss about if laws tried to decree taking blood as a punishment. But it seems to just be brushed off when it is about obtaining evidence).

      Having said, I do think, from a purely moral point of view, that if they were guilty they should admit it honestly. And I hope that if it can be proved against the sister who was driving it will be treated very seriously.

      As one of your international readers, a question: how can someone be charged with EIGHT counts of homicide if only two people died?

      Prayers for the family. As someone else has commented, no-one gets away with anything in the end. Though that shouldn’t be an excuse for not doing our best with earthly justice, when we have done our best, we can leave it to God who won’t be confused with any shuffling or difficulties in proving a case!

      1. Title of previous due to automatic form filling...

        Excuse the crazy title – I really wish that I knew how to stop the automatic form filling doing that sort of thing, and I really wish people would stop using A.I (Artificial Idiocy) on everything… and I should have remembered to check… ><

        1. Erik Wesner

          Was the form filled in for you somehow? I’m not aware of this happening, so I’m interested to hear your experience.

          1. Web browser, I think...

            Yes: I think it is the web browser, though, not the website.

            There is this maddeningly obtrusive automatic form filling which pops up on almost every box in every form and tries to fill as much of the form as possible in with something you wrote in a form before. For example, it tries to fill in every reference (when essay writing for university I use a website with a tool where you enter book information in a form and it puts it into correct format for you) with my name and address, often obscuring the box I’m trying to write in with the pop-up, and then it tries to fill in my address on shopping site forms with, “Augustine of Hippo!” So it is a web-wide experience: hence the fact that I think it must be the browser.

            In this case, it seems to have put the title of the last comment I made on this site in, which unfortunately was seriously inappropriate. I am dyslexia and visually impaired, so checking an automatic form filler hasn’t done something silly is actually quite difficult.

            I may end up changing browsers, but it requires finding a browser that is at least more controllable and these intrusive artificial tools seem to be a craze at the moment.

            Of course, if the website code your end can do anything about automatic form filling browser tools triggering on the title box where they aren’t appropriate, that would obviously be useful! It would also be useful to be able to edit comments, at least for a few minutes after posting (I realise it is more questionable to be able to edit comments indefinitely, because it is possible to give a false impression of other people’s engagement).

            1. Erik Wesner

              Thanks for the info – yea that’s not coming from this site, it sounds like something local to your machine or browser.

              I do empathize with you as the internet in 2024 is in many ways more of a hassle to navigate and use than the one we had even 5 years ago.

              I am considering a change to the comment system which will allow more interaction, as I know the edit and thumbs up features would be handy. It’s on the list and I just need to work through the items above it! But I hear you.

              I can delete the random title if you like though on my end.

              1. Yes...


                Yeah, it’s strange how we overcomplicate things so enthusiastically. I suppose it’s a side effect of people being generally innovative, though!

                I would appreciate it if you did delete that title in this case – if you need the title I would have used, it would have been: “Guilt always needs to be actually proved…”.

                It bothers me because all the parties in a case like this – the dead, the family, the accused, and whoever else the matter concerns – deserve the dignity of having it taken seriously, and though it was just a mistake and not deliberate flippancy, that isn’t necessarily immediately obvious to the reader. It is rather Murphy’s law that it didn’t happen on something light-hearted, where it would just have been a laugh! ><

    5. Cheryl Reed

      This is such a a heartbreaking story. Those two little beautiful girls gone because our judicial system failed. Those sisters should be in prison. I can’t believe the judge in that county. I pray justice will serve a life sentence without parole.

    6. john

      messed up justice system

      I just read a store of baseball card dealer who had some valuable cards stolen worth over a $100,000.00 several years ago and the thief was caught and the the prosecuting atty and defense atty bargaining down o a $10.000.00 fine and 3 years probation after he paid the fine and fees were removed the dealer only received a little bit over $9.000.00 dollars. No wonder nobody is afraid of the justice system today there is no punishment for crimes today. These 2 drivers will walk free with a slap on the wrist for what they have done.

    7. Guy in Ohio

      I wonder what the laws in Minnesota are for recording other people’s conversations? That aside, I would think that in 2024 it would be common knowledge that any time you are interacting with law enforcement, or in their custody you are being recorded…for their own safety just as much as for your safety. I have a hard time believing the “surreptitiously recorded” argument will work but court’s decisions have surprised me before.

      1. Recording and producing a recording as evidence may not be the same thing

        There can be a difference between recording “for quality and training purposes” and recording what can be used as evidence in court.

        If someone under suspicion has the right to be warned by the police that they have the right not to incriminate themselves, then what has been said before that, or outside that context, may be inadmissible as evidence. This would usually only apply to the police, though – witness from members of the public (in this case the daughter, the social worker, and the co-workers) usually could not be removed from consideration like this.

        I would insist that the right not to incriminate yourself is a legal right rather than a moral one – it would be morally better to admit guilt when guilty – but there is good reason for it. These technicalities are frustrating in a case where evidence or even proof seems to exist and be excluded, but law enforcement is very powerful, and can be very brutal.

        There have been cases in my country (UK) where police have literally produced fake confessions, or are thought to have edited sound recordings and then presented them as unedited.

        I had friends who were caught up in a police investigation – I think because someone had actually committed fraud against them and they were accused of doing it – and they said the police were being extremely vindictive. (I think they were ultimately able to prove from the phone call record that they’d tried to report the fraud only to find the police being dismissive).

        Police are liable to fall into the error of deciding that they know someone is guilty and that proving it properly is merely a formality, rather than accepting that if they cannot honestly prove it, they do not know – not with sufficient certainty to punish. And there have been experiments done strongly implying that it is not as difficult as might be expected to induce people to admit to things they can actually be proved NOT to have done.

        There need to be a lot of rules regarding what the police can do to obtain evidence, or law enforcement quickly degenerates into something which is no better than a mess of gangsters. The police need these boundaries too. Most police are good people trying to do a difficult job, but without strict boundaries and rules, the difficulties of the job may lead them to be tempted to do things which are truly wrong, via a step by step descent through the grey areas into the truly black ones, driven by their (in itself perfectly legitimate) human distress at the grim effects of crime on the victims.

        These difficulties are about the wider integrity of the legal system and have nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the particular individuals. This case is still only alleged: there is plenty of reason for suspicion, but no-one has the right to say these women are actually guilty until it has been proved to a legal standard in court!