NEWS BLOG (WSAU) It seemed like a tragic accident.
Brian Witkus knocked a book off the passenger seat of his van, and was reaching over to pick it up off the floor while driving. He should have pulled over to pick it up. He didn’t. It was a dangerous thing to do. But we’ve all done that sort of thing before. We’re in a hurry. We’re not as safety-conscious as we should me.
While Witkus reached for the book on the floor, his van drifted over to the shoulder or the road. An Amish family was in their horse and buggy. He rear-ended them, causing a horrific accident. A six-week-old baby girl, Ada Miller, died in the crash.
It’s a clear-cut case of criminal carelessness. Witkus reached a plea bargain instead of going to trial. The judge would decide sentence, ranging from probation to 10-years.
Only that’s not what happened. The story Witkus told police wasn’t true.
He was not reaching over to pick up a book. This was not a tragic case of carelessness.
Witkus now admits to huffing – inhaling the fumes from an aerosol can – before the accident. He was likely high on or the verge of passing out when he veered off the road. The case now looks a lot more like an OWI than an accident.
Witkus lied to police. He lied to prosecutors. He continued the lie through his pre-trial hearing when his plea bargain was discussed. And his guilty plea was based on that falsehood.
His sentence: three-and-a-half years in prison.
Why does someone who lies and deceives throughout the judicial process deserve leniency? Is it too much to ask of someone who throws themselves at the mercy of the court that they tell the truth?
Brian Witkus, who caused two other crashes while huffing, did not deserve a break. He deserved the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau
WSAU's news coverage of this story: http://tinyurl.com/26sd2y6