Weather Forecast


CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Merrill woman convicted of vehicular homicide will be free on bond for two months

MERRILL -- It appears that a Merrill woman convicted of killing two friends in a drunk driving crash will be free on bond for about two-and-a-half months.  Ashley Baumann was released from jail yesterday, after a judge agreed to stop keeping her in jail without bond until her sentencing on August 20th.  The 26-year-old Baumann posted ten-thousand-dollars of a 50-thousand dollar bond, and she was released on special conditions.  A jury convicted Baumann last month on all seven criminal charges she was facing.  She caused a high-speed crash in Merrill in 2012 that killed her friends Misty Glisch and Jessica Hartwig.  Officials are conducting a pre-sentence investigation, which prosecutors will use to help make their recommendation of how long Baumann should be in prison.


A Madison man has been found innocent of causing the heroin death of a Cross Plains man almost two-and-a-half years ago.  A Dane County jury deliberated for over six hours yesterday, before acquitting 34-year-old Jason James of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 22-year-old Darrel "D-J" Thurow.  The jury did, however, find James guilty of delivering heroin to a friend that the victim was out with the night before he died.  The friend, Adam Krutchen, was put on five years of probation in March after he pleaded guilty to delivering heroin.  James pleaded guilty to two similar counts in January, and he'll be sentenced on all three counts at a later date.  During the trial, a defense expert said it could not be determined whether Thurow died from the heroin he took the night before his death -- or from two other drugs prescribed to him.  Dane County's medical examiner said he was certain that Thurow would not have died it wasn't for the heroin.  


A Racine billionaire is expected to be convicted today on a reduced misdemeanor charge for allegedly molesting a teenage girl for several years.  A plea and sentencing hearing was scheduled for Curt Johnson, an heir to the S-C Johnson household products empire.  He's charged with a felony count of repeated child sexual assault for alleged improper conduct over three years, starting after the girl completed sixth grade.  Prosecutors say the victim refuses to cooperate, and Johnson's counseling records are not being made available -- so the D-A's office says the only real chance for a conviction is on a misdemeanor count of fourth-degree sexual assault.  Johnson is the former chairman of Diversey, a cleaning products company that was spun off from S-C Johnson. 


The Wisconsin Supreme Court is about to decide whether former prosecutor Ken Kratz will have his law license suspended.  He resigned as Calumet County's district attorney in 2010, after it was learned that he tried having a relationship with a woman while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend for abusing her.  A referee in Kratz's case recommended that he lose his Wisconsin law license for four months.  The state's Office of Lawyer Regulation asked the Supreme Court for a six-month suspension.  Kratz wants no punishment, saying he's suffered enough.  Kratz reportedly sent 30 racy text messages to the woman, who later sued him in federal court.  More women came forward and said he made sexually-tinged comments to them.  Former Governor Jim Doyle started an effort to remove Kratz when he quit.  He later filed for bankruptcy.


Autopsies are planned today for two people found dead near Lake Geneva.  Walworth County authorities said the bodies were found yesterday, about a half-mile from a police station in the town of Geneva.  Other details were not immediately released.


A Plover man died this week after he was beaten with a baseball bat on Memorial Day.  Because of that, prosecutors say they'll upgrade a criminal charge against the man's stepson.  Thirty-two year old Andrew Pray of Plover is jailed under a quarter-million dollar bond in the death of 77-year-old Christopher Bonnstetter.  Pray is due back in Portage County Circuit Court on Monday.  By then, his attempted homicide charge could be upgraded to homicide.  Pray is facing several charges in an attack May 26th at Bonnstetter's home in Plover.  Authorities said Pray's mother tried calling for help, and she was forced to go a neighbor's house to get assistance.  Pray was arrested a short time later.  Bonnstetter died at a Marshfield hospital eight days after the incident.