Although a woman who died of alcohol poisoning passed out at the Mankato bar where she had spent the night drinking, reports of what happened the night of Oct. 29 don’t justify criminal charges against the bartender who was serving her or the friends who were buying her drinks, Blue Earth County Attorney Ross Arneson said Thursday.

After weeks of gathering evidence and considering legal options, Arneson decided there isn’t enough evidence to convince a jury the 23-year-old bartender at Sidelines Bar and Grill would have known Amanda Jax was “obviously intoxicated” before he served her last drink.

In a news release that was filled with information gathered about what happened while Jax was celebrating her 21st birthday with friends, Arneson also pointed out it is not illegal for a bartender to fail to take drinks away from someone who “exhibits signs of intoxication” after being served.

Jax’s friends, who were drinking with her before she died with a blood-alcohol concentration of .46 early the following morning, will not face criminal charges, either, Arneson said. It is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota for anyone to provide alcohol to someone who is “obviously intoxicated.”

“An overview of the facts in this case may lead a casual observer to conclude that one or more persons in the Sidelines Bar should have recognized Ms. Jax was being ‘obviously intoxicated’ and yet still furnished Ms. Jax with alcoholic beverages,” Arneson said in the news release. “However, the State cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any particular person was responsible for violating the statute.

“The state cannot prove that, at any point in time, the bartender recognized that Ms. Jax was ‘obviously intoxicated’ and then furnished Ms. Jax another alcoholic beverage.”

The Mankato City Attorney’s office is still considering whether to take administrative action against Sidelines through the bar’s liquor license agreement. Jax’s mother, Jenny Haag of Mayer, also is considering a civil lawsuit. Her attorney, Alan Milavetz of Edina, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Police interviewed the bartender, who was not identified by Arneson, after Jax, a former Minnesota State University student, was found dead in a friend’s apartment the morning of Oct. 30. He told investigators Jax arrived at the bar with a group of five friends, who also haven’t been identified, between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Jax never bought a drink for herself, but her group started by ordering a pitcher of Long Island ice teas, which contains multiple shots of liquor, and a pitcher of beer, the bartender reported. Jax also had a shot of Jim Beam, a shot of Captain Morgan rum, a “cherry bomb” containing cherry schnapps and an energy drink, a “stop light” containing multiple shots of schnapps and tequila and “two or three” glasses of beer. She did not finish the “stop light” drink.

The bartender said he was counting pull-tab money when he noticed Jax was passing out. He had been talking to her five minutes earlier, so he was surprised to see her lie down on a stool next to her, he reported.

He and another man carried her out to a car at about 11:45 p.m. She left with a man and woman who had been with her at the bar, the bartender reported.

Those friends and the others who had been with Jax also were interviewed by police. They said Jax drank regularly, and one friend estimated she had seen Jax drunk “over a hundred times” in the past year.

Jax and one other woman were drinking the pitcher of Long Island ice teas, they said. They also said Jax drank the additional drinks listed by the bartender before she passed out. At that point her friends said they put her in a chair at the bar and fed her some ice. She was talking, but her speech was slurred, they said.

Once Jax was carried out of the bar and brought to the apartment, a friend put her to bed and sat with her until she started snoring. At about 1 a.m., they realized Jax had thrown up and cleaned her off. Her friend went to bed at about 2:30 a.m. and discovered Jax was dead when she got up at 7 a.m. for classes at MSU.

After reporting Jax’s death to police with a 911 call, that friend told investigators she had seen Jax drink more multiple times.

According to Arneson’s release, that friend said: “That’s why we just don’t understand ’cause she has drank so much more than this, and we just don’t know, and what ... we don’t know if she ate anything that day. We have no idea. She ... all I know is that she came to our apartment and she wanted to go out, so we went out.”

Jax’s autopsy report showed she weighed about 100 pounds when she died.

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