Pubdate: Wed, 13 Apr 2016
Source: Portage Daily Register (WI)
Copyright: 2016 Portage Daily Register
Author: Jonathan Stefonek
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our 
editors may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who 
have not been convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise 
public figures or officials.


A sentencing hearing for a Portage woman charged with reckless 
homicide overflowed with emotional testimony, culminating in a 
decision in which the judge lamented the court being ill-equipped to 
deal with such cases in the absence of a drug treatment court.

[name1 redacted], 27, of Portage, was accused of first-degree 
reckless homicide as a party to a crime in connection with the August 
death of [name2 redacted], 27, of Lodi.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office responded Aug. 18 to a Lodi-area 
home for a death investigation.

According to court documents, the man last with [name2 redacted], 
[name3 redacted], 26, of Madison, told officers that he had been 
sitting at a campfire with [name2 redacted] the night before and they 
had gotten the idea to get some heroin.

At 1 a.m. the two were able to get money and a ride to Madison where 
they were dropped off at the parking lot for Woodman's Food Market. A 
half hour later they came back and returned to the Lodi home around 3 a.m.

[name3 redacted] told a Columbia County detective that after getting 
to Woodman's Food Market, the two found [name4 redacted], 27, whom 
they had been texting earlier and was waiting with his minivan. Also 
in the van was [name5 redacted], 46, of Tampa Bay, Florida, and 
[name4 redacted]'s girlfriend, [name1 redacted].

They then drove to a PDQ station where [name3 redacted], [name4 
redacted] and [name2 redacted] waited while [name1 redacted] and 
[name5 redacted] left with $200 from [name2 redacted]. The two came 
back with heroin and all five took heroin together before [name2 
redacted] and [name3 redacted] left the van to get their ride back 
home, bringing heroin from their trip.

That morning, [name3 redacted] told the detective, he and [name2 
redacted] went to the boat house, where they shot up again. Later, 
[name3 redacted] woke up and went home. [name2 redacted] never woke up.

During [name1 redacted]' hearing, Assistant District Attorney Crystal 
Long told Judge Todd Hepler that there were five people who would 
like to speak in court and another who, expecting to be too emotional 
to address the court, asked Long to read her statement.

"I feel incomplete," [name2 redacted]'s father said. "Living in a 
world without him isn't right."

[name2 redacted]'s mother gave photos to Hepler to be taken into 
consideration, telling the court that [name2 redacted] was the 
youngest of her five children, "taken, used and left for dead," 
referring to [name1 redacted] and the others involved as "those who 
profited from his death."

After the family provided its testimony, Long re-iterated that the 
proposed sentencing agreement was put together, among other reasons, 
to ensure testimony from [name1 redacted] in convicting those more 
directly responsible in [name2 redacted]'s death. The reckless 
homicide charge was dismissed while [name1 redacted] plead no contest 
to delivery of heroin.

[name1 redacted]' family was also there, her mother standing up to 
speak on her behalf.

"I feel horrible that they lost their child and that my child was 
involved in that," said [name1 redacted]'s mother, "and I just pray 
that heroin doesn't take my child as well."

"[name2 redacted] was my friend and my heart breaks for the family 
that suffers from this unfortunate loss," [name1 redacted] told the 
court, speaking last on her own behalf. "I hope you will understand 
the remorse and heartbreak that has constantly been in my heart since 
learning of [name2 redacted]'s passing."

"If we continue doing the same old things, we will continue getting 
the same old results and that is simply unacceptable," said Hepler "I 
cannot sit idly by and watch children throw their lives away without 
trying to do something about it.

"To that end I have committed myself to the establishment of a drug 
court in Columbia County. We need to do something and we need to do it now."

In the absence of such a mechanism, Hepler sentenced [name1 
redacted], who arrived from Columbia County Jail, where she has spent 
189 days, to another 14 days, followed by seven years of probation 
with a requirement that every six months she return to give Hepler an 
update on her progress.

Later in the day Hepler explained his expansive decision in [name1 
redacted]'s case.

'Huge need'

"There's a huge need for a judge to do something about this," saying 
that Judge Andrew Voigt has been occupied with building and moving 
projects and Judge Alan White is busy overseeing the OWI treatment 
court. "Honestly, I wanted to wait a little more, but we would be 
foolish not to push forward."

Putting a stack of papers down on his desk with a whomp he showed 
some of his recent homework - PowerPoint presentations for a drug 
treatment class, academic studies, policies and procedures from 
counties with drug courts like Dane and Sauk Counties.

One avenue for getting the resources for a drug court is through a 
Treatment, Alternatives and Diversion grant through the state, 
although if successfully applied for in the current round, that would 
mean funding in 2017.

Having gone between the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the Office 
of Probation and Parole, Health and Human Services and other parties 
with a stake in expanding treatment, Hepler is developing an idea of 
what he would like to see happen in Columbia County.

"We need to bring these services together for a more holistic 
solution," giving an example of helping people to find daycare so 
they can get to court and treatment, while still being parents.

"Nobody wins in these things," he said. "That family is trying to 
deal with all this pain, and at the same time it could have easily 
been the other way and he would have been the one in court today."
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D