Drunken driver convicted in deaths of New Berlin couple

Oct. 4, 2012

The drunken driver who killed a New Berlin couple in a horrific crash on New Year's Day and then fled from the scene pleaded no contest Thursday to four charges.

Ed and Jean Thaves, who were 61 and 52 years old, were at N. 27th St. and W. St. Paul Ave. about 6 a.m. after a night at Potawatomi Bingo Casino. That's when Kelly Duke lost control of a stolen car, went airborne and crashed into the roof of the couple's vehicle.

Duke, who was seriously injured, climbed out of the car he'd been driving and ran from a witness. Duke's brother later appeared at the crash site and said the car belonged to his aunt and that Kelly Duke was likely the driver. He was arrested later at a relative's home.

Tests later showed Duke had a blood-alcohol level of 0.183, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Duke, 17 at the time, was charged with nine offenses and had been set to begin trial next week before he reached a plea agreement. He entered the no-contest pleas to two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, one count of hit-and-run involving death and to the misdemeanor charge of knowingly driving with a suspended license, causing great bodily harm.

Other counts were dismissed.

By pleading no contest, Duke avoids admitting liability in a lawsuit. His attorney, John Moore, also said Duke pleaded no contest because he has no memory of the crash. In a criminal case, however, the plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

Duke, now 18, faces up to 45 years and nine months in prison at his sentencing Jan. 11, plus 30 years of extended supervision. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski ordered pre-sentence reports for Duke.

Several of the victims' family members and friends attended the hearing. The couple's children were disappointed in the plea and the length of time the case has been pending.

"Why hurt our family any more by not just saying, 'I'm sorry, I did it, I'm pleading guilty,' " said Lyann Buena Franco, the victims' daughter. "This was really a blow to me."

Her brother, Edwin Thaves, said that Duke needed to be brought to justice "with a strong hand," and that if the system didn't make an example of him, the "epidemic" of drunken driving will continue to plague the community.

He called on lawmakers to pass laws toughening drunken driving, including minimum mandatory sentences to prevent "activist judges from letting sympathy get in the way of common sense and public safety."

Duke has been jailed on $200,000 bail since his arrest.

Community Watch

» 2016 Waukesha County Fair coverage 7/22

» Social media story on the storms rolling through Milwaukee area 7/21

» Resources available to Waukesha County residents during extreme heat 7/21

» Muskego mixed-use project gets $500,000 state grant 7/20

» Initial Reaction Podcast: Wisconsin Badgers football, WIFCA All-Star game 7/20

» Time lapse: A tour of Big Muskego Lake shows hope, beauty reign in giant wetland 7/18

» #BestSummerEverNOW: Share your 2016 summer photos of you in the Milwaukee suburbs Updated:  7/18

» Live coverage: 2016 WIAA Summer Baseball Sectional Round Updated:  7/18

» NOW's user submitted stories, photos will be discontinued in early August 7/18

» New Berlin West baseball team drops heartbreaker to Greendale in regional final 7/17

» New Berlin Eisenhower baseball team falls to Cudahy in WIAA regional 7/17

» Muskego child enticement hearing for former West Bend official delayed Updated:  7/12

» Initial Reaction Podcast: WIAA state summer baseball tournament preview Updated:  7/12

» New Berlin bicyclist killed in collision with semitrailer truck in Pewaukee 7/12

» Questions must be answered before Muskego Youth Football can use park 7/11

» Muskego soccer parents, Kurth Park neighbors might be on same side 7/11

» Police ask charges against Muskego man suspected of embezzlement 7/11

» Dog park idea takes step backward in Muskego 7/11

» New Berlin Eisenhower baseball team wins twice in Woodland Conference tournament 7/10

» New Berlin West baseball wins Woodland Conference tournament 7/8

» Initial Reaction Podcast: JR talks Olympic Trials with two local track athletes 7/7

» Greenfield's Bella Matthias repeats as NOW Newspapers' 2016 All-Suburban Softball Player of the Year 7/6

» Local lake districts, statewide programs persist in battle against invasive species Updated:  7/5

» Muskego's Christy Dachowski came back from two surgeries to shine on softball field 7/5

» 2016 Fourth of July events in the Milwaukee suburbs Updated:  7/2

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss

Waukesha County Fair

 

It might be hot out there, but interns Maddy Heim and McKenna Oxenden are enjoying all aspects of the Waukesha County Fair. Check out their coverage of the new pig, duck and goat races, the 50th annual Fairest of the Fair contest, as well as their ranking of the top food items.

Best Summer Ever

 

We've made it easy for you to get out and go this summer. From hitting the trails for a bike ride or walk, to where to find beer gardens in the area, to the best places to swim in Waukesha County to the best summer drinks and summer reads, check out our 2016 summer guide.

Advertisement

Advertisement

CONNECT    

Advertisement

Most Popular