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Former Lutheran bishop gets decade in prison for fatal OWI crash

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A former Lutheran bishop from Madison will spend ten years in prison for killing a jogger in a drunk driving crash.

60-year-old Bruce Burnside was sentenced Thursday at the end of an 8 hour hearing in Dane County Circuit Court.

He was rushing to a church event in Sun Prairie when he struck 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt near the end of a freeway ramp in April of last year. He kept going for a short distance before stopping at a corner business.

Prosecutors said Burnside tried to flee the crash scene, but his attorney said he pulled over as soon as he could. Mengelt, a former Madison police officer, was training for a 20 mile race.

Burnside's blood alcohol level was more than one-and-a-half times the legal limit. He said he didn't realize he was too impaired to drive, and he denied fleeing the scene -- but he still took responsibility for what happened.

His lawyer said a 2 to 4-year prison term was appropriate -- much shorter than the decade Burnside was given.

He pleaded guilty in May to reckless homicide and first-time OWI. Five other counts were dropped in a plea deal. 

Burnside was the bishop of the South Central Wisconsin synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He left that post soon after his arrest.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)