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Trial dates set in Merrill OWI homicide case (with video)

Dec. 19, 2013
 
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Ashley Baumann will head to trial May 5 on charges she was driving drunk in a 2012 crash that killed two friends and injured another. / Daily Herald Media file photo

MERRILL — Trial dates have been set for the 25-year-old Merrill woman accused of driving drunk in a high-speed crash that killed two friends and seriously injured another.

Ashley Baumann will head to trial May 5 on charges of homicide by drunken driving, homicide by negligent driving, causing great bodily harm by drunken driving and reckless driving causing great bodily harm. She faces a maximum sentence of 86 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Attorneys met today with Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Tlusty to reschedule the trial, which originally was set to begin this month. Lincoln County District Attorney Donald Dunphy asked for the delay in October after he learned a key witness in the case would be unavailable to testify during the trial. Wright Laufenberg, a defense attorney who represents Baumann, did not object to the prosecutor’s request.

The judge granted Dunphy’s request but said future delays would not be tolerated.

Jessica Hartwig, 33, and Misty Glisch, 31, both of Merrill, were killed in the June 7, 2012, crash. Hartwig’s sister, Jerrica Woller, 31, of Merrill suffered serious injuries in the crash, including a collapsed lung and a blood clot to her brain, according to court records. The four women had been playing softball and were seen drinking together at a local tavern in the hours leading up to the crash, according to court documents. Baumann also was badly injured in the crash.

Patrick Wunsch, an investigator for the Merrill Police Department who was called to the scene of the crash, testified at a December 2012 hearing that police relied on a number of factors to pinpoint who was driving the night of the crash. Baumann’s hair was found embedded in the upper door frame of the driver’s side of the car, and Woller’s hair was found embedded in the roof above her seat, he said.

Wunsch testified that data downloaded from the vehicle’s diagnostic system showed the car was traveling at 96 mph five seconds before the vehicle’s air bags deployed. The crash happened on a straight stretch of road in the 700 block of South Alexander Street in Merrill, where the posted speed limit is 25 mph.

A toxicology report from the state crime lab showed Baumann had a 0.15 percent blood alcohol concentration three hours after the crash — nearly twice the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving in Wisconsin.

Baumann remains free on a $5,000 bond; her trial is expected to last seven days.

Shereen Siewert can be reached at 715-845-0773. Follow her on Twitter as http://twitter.com/ShereenSiewert.

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