Michael Nelson sentenced in fatal hit-and-run accident

UPDATE — 5:55 p.m.

A hit-and-run driver from Big Bay will spend nine months in jail for a fatal accident that took place nearly a year ago. He was convicted in October of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, resulting in death.

Michael Nelson, 46, was sentenced to 12 months in jail. He’ll have to serve nine of those months immediately.

Northern Michigan University registered dietitian Robin Rahoi was walking on County Road KCB, or Lighthouse Road, in Big Bay late at night last December when Nelson hit her with his Jeep. The investigation determined that Rahoi most likely died instantly and that Nelson had not been at fault.

However, Nelson left the scene. Nelson has said repeatedly that he didn’t know he had hit anyone until police confronted him the following afternoon. Defense attorney Sarah Henderson said that her client passed a privately-administered lie detector test about that.

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese argued that because the polygraph was inadmissible as evidence, it could not be considered as a factor at sentencing. He reminded Judge Jennifer Mazzuchi that there was trial testimony that Nelson had been drinking that night, though how much he had been drinking is unknown.

Forensic evidence showed that the only way Nelson could have dislodged Rahoi from the grille of his Jeep was by backing up. Because of that, Wiese stated that Nelson either knew or should have known that he had hit someone.

Members of Rahoi’s family asked Judge Mazzuchi to impose the maximum sentence allowed under state guidelines, which in this case was 12 months. She did, but she suspended the final three months pending completion of probation. Nelson’s probation will last for two years.


MARQUETTE — The man who was found guilty in a hit-and-run trial resulting in the death of a Big Bay woman will spend one year in jail.

Michael Nelson, 46, was sentenced Monday in Marquette County Circuit Court. He is ordered to serve nine months in jail immediately. The final three months are suspended if he completes the terms of his probation.

He was sentenced to serve two years on probation.

In October, a jury found Nelson guilty in the death of 54-year-old Robin Rahoi. He hit her with his vehicle in December 2013 on County Road KCB, or Lighthouse Road, in Big Bay.

ABC 10’s Mike Hoey was in court for Nelson’s sentencing and will have more on this story at 5:30.