A fatal hit-and-run auto accident case that began last August has concluded with a plea bargain deal. Kayla M. Bower has pled no contest to three felony charges.
On August 6 last year, according to the criminal complaint, Bower had attended the Sheboygan Brat Days festival. She was driving when her car stuck three women crossing North 17th Street near Kiwanis Park. Bower later told police she panicked and drove away from the accident. She then abandoned her vehicle a few blocks away from the scene. A few hours later, she was arrested at home.
Three women were injured in the car crash. Two of them, Marissa C. Mallman and Katrina N. Lulow, both 19 at the time of the accident, had only minor injuries. The third victim was Mallman’s mother, 60-year-old Barbara J. Janke of Sheboygan. Janke was taken to the hospital but died two days later.
When questioned, Bower told police that she had consumed three beers before going to the festival.
Before the plea bargain agreement, Bower was scheduled to begin a jury trial in a week. Had the case gone to trial, she would have faced nine felony counts with a maximum possible sentence of 90 years in prison. Instead, the plea bargain will have Bower plead no contest to three felonies: two counts of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle and one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
The prosecutors’ office has recommended to the sentencing judge that Bower be imprisoned for six years and have 12 years of extended supervision after release. However, the judge is not bound to accept this recommendation when sentence is passed on April 9.
Assistant District Attorney James A. Haasch does not see this as a victory. “With these types of cases, nobody wins. It’s just sad all the way around,” he was quoted as saying. “You’ve got a family who’s suffered a tremendous loss with someone not being here anymore, and the [defendant] is a very young person who has to live with the fact she took someone’s life, no matter what the sentence is.”
There are no indications whether a civil case is pending over the wrongful death injury in an automobile accident.
The attorneys and staff at the Appleton office of Hupy and Abraham would like to take this solemn occasion to remind drivers to avoid alcohol before they get behind the wheel.