Princeton man charged with 2nd degree
murder in suspicious car accident death of wife
By Greg Hunt, Isanti County News
On first look, it appeared Deborah Hollerman had died in an March 22, 2002 auto accident when a Jeep Cherokee driven by her husband, Steve Hollerman, collided with a stalled vehicle on Hwy. 95 in western Isanti County. But as investigators from several law units worked further into the case, the cause of death was changed to homicide.
On his birthday, April 19, Steven Charles Hollerman, 40, of Princeton, was charged with 2nd degree murder by the Isanti County Attorney's office. District 10 Judge James Reuter set bail at $200,000 after Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad requested bail between the range of $500,000-750,000, and defense attorney Craig Cascarano countered with a $50,000 bail request. A May 2nd Rule 8 trial date was set for the case.
Here's how the investigation shook out, according to the criminal complaint.
On the evening of March 22, the Hollermans drove to Cambridge for shopping between 6:30-7:30 p.m. At 9:59 p.m., Isanti Co. Deputy Lance Olson was dispatched to an accident scene on Hwy. 95, about four miles west of Hwy. 47. There was the Hollerman's Cherokee on the south side of the highway and a Hyundai, which was identified as a stalled vehicle that had been left to the side of Hwy. 95 for "a few days," on the north side.
Steven and Deborah Hollerman were lying side-by-side next to the passenger's side of the Cherokee. She was not breathing, had severe head injuries and Dep. Olson was not able to find a pulse. The ambulance crew pronounced D. Hollerman, age 41, dead on the scene. S. Hollerman was screaming, stating he had both neck and back pain, and was transported to Fairview North Hospital in Princeton.
State Patrol Corporal Anthony Snyder joined Dep. Olson on the scene where they observed a large amount of blood splattered throughout the front of the car, a spider-web shaped crack in the windshield and the rearview mirror broken off.
Trooper Snyder questioned S. Hollerman at Fairview who allegedly told him he could not remember much about the accident apart from seeing the Hyundai right before the collision. According to the complaint, S. Hollerman said he was not sure why he went off the roadway and hit the vehicle, ie. he stated he did not swerve from anything on the road.
Corp. Snyder and State Patrol Crash Reconstruction Coordinator Sgt. Donn Schmalzbauer conducted further investigations of the Hollerman's Cherokee, particularly the amount of blood visible. Based on the stains and hair matter on the windshield and interior of the vehicle, it appeared to Sgt. Schmalzbauer that D. Hollerman was blood-soaked prior to her collision with the windshield. Sgt. Schmalzbauer also determined the collision was not a high-speed accident, and the evidence pointed out that S. Hollerman did not brake anytime before or during the accident.
On April 4, Dr. Janice Amatuzio, a forensic pathologist with Midwest Forensic Pathology, reported to the investigation team that her research on the blood stains, the presence of only minor damage to the windshield and the pattern of scalp injuries to D. Hollerman led her to recommend the injuries were inconsistent to be caused solely by the crash. She recommended further investigation.
Evidence didn't match story
On April 8, Corp. Snyder and Special Agent Jon Herman of the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension met with S. Hollerman at the Princeton Police station where they told him the evidence in the vehicle did not match with his story. Hollerman then allegedly admitted he and his wife got into an argument at a store in Cambridge, the argument continued on the way home, and he ended up stopping the vehicle on Feldspar St.
Hollerman then stated he pushed D. Hollerman up against the side of the door where her head struck on the A-pillar. He further stated he did this two or three times, and D. Hollerman was bleeding heavily. He stated he wanted to get her to a hospital, but added that "the accident was an accident."
Also in his investigation, Corp. Snyder noted that Hollerman did not use his cell phone to call for emergency personnel. Snyder also stated that according to Dep. Olson, Hollerman, a lab supervisor at Fairview North, had pulled his wife out of the vehicle, had her head tilted forward which did not allow her airway to be open, and he was not administering CPR. Snyder further noted when he saw Hollerman at Fairview following the accident, Hollerman stated he had no pain when checked out by emergency personnel.
On April 11, Dr. Amatuzio presented her next report to Snyder and Herman. Based on her further study of the vehicle photographs and a physical inspection of the Cherokee, she requested the Isanti Co. Coroner's Office to change the cause of death to reflect that Deborah Hollerman died as a result of homicide, as the manner of death being blunt force head injuries due to assault, with the motor vehicle crash being an associated significant condition.
S. Hollerman was arrested at his home on April 17. If found guilty, he could face a maximum prison sentence of up to 40 years.
P.O. Box 278
Princeton, MN 55371