Case concluded four years after crash
By Robert Cloud
The driver who killed an 81-year-old man more than four years ago will spend five years on probation.
Kristin K. Carlson, 45, Fond du Lac, appeared for sentencing before Waupaca County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Huber Tuesday, Sept. 26.
She was convicted of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle on June 20.
On July 2, 2013, Carlson’s vehicle struck Fred Lick on County Trunk Q near its intersection with County QQ in Dayton.
Lick was walking home after going to his mailbox.
Huber stayed a sentence of three years of incarceration and four years of extended supervision, then placed her on probation.
As a condition of Carlson’s probation, Huber ordered her to spend a total of seven months and 15 days in jail.
During the sentencing hearing, the victim’s family spoke to the court about how Lick enjoyed the patriotic holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. Lick had served in the Wisconsin National Guard.
Huber ordered that Carlson’s jail time be scheduled to include July 2-4, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend every year during her probation.
While she will be allowed work-release privileges for the remaining jail time, Carlson will serve the entire three days in jail during the holidays.
Family members spoke of the horror they experienced the day Lick was killed.
Lisa Schultz, Fred Lick’s oldest child and only daughter, said the day of the incident she received a call from her brother that there had been an accident. She and her husband immediately drove to her parents’ home.
When they arrived, an officer would not allow them to drive all the way to the house.
After she exited the car, Schultz saw flashing lights, an ambulance and squad cars. She also saw several tarps on the ground. That is when she learned that the speeding vehicle that hit her father had torn his body into three pieces.
“The next thing I remember is laying in the ditch in a fetal position,” Schultz said.
Since her father’s death, Schultz said she has suffered from nightmares and difficulty sleeping. She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic syndrome.
The victim’s wife, Harriet Lick, said she had left the house to buy some chicken for dinner. When she returned home, she saw emergency vehicles and her husband’s cane in pieces and his watch halfway down the road.”
“I left him a love note on the table, telling him I would be home shortly,” Harriet Lick said. “I guess that was our farewell.”
She also noted that Carlson made a series of choices that led to Fred Lick’s death.
Harriet Lick said Carlson was driving at twice the 35 mph speed limit, using her cellphone at the time and had been drinking prior to getting into her car.
“Miss Carlson, some real professional help is what you need and it needs to be in prison,” Harriet Lick said.
Tara Jenswold is the state Justice Department’s special prosecutor who took the case after John Snider, who was Waupaca County’s district attorney at the time, failed to file charges for two years.
Jenswold asked Huber to sentence Carlson to two years of confinement and two years of extended supervision.
The prosecutor noted Carlson had a substance abuse problem that led her to steal narcotics from St. Elizabeth Hospital where she worked in 2007.
Carlson was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of possession of a prescription drug by fraud, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft. She entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on a felony charge of possession of narcotic drugs. The charge was dismissed after two years.
Carlson’s license as a registered nurse was also revoked.
Jenswold argued the prior drug-related activity spoke to Carlson’s character.
She noted Carlson had injected drugs in a car parked outside the hospital, passed out, woke up, then drove home.
She said Carlson had a pattern of minimizing the seriousness of her behavior and not taking responsibility for her actions.
In announcing his sentence, Huber noted that without a trial and without motion hearings, he had little evidence regarding some of the allegations.
Carlson was not charged with a drunken driving homicide because her blood-alcohol level was .05. The legal limit is .08.
There is evidence Carlson was texting at the time of the crash, but it is not conclusive.
“It seems probable that she was distracted,” Huber said.
Huber said he thought the character analysis by the pre-sentencing investigator was more accurate than the one presented by the prosecution.
The judge noted Carlson called 911, remained at the scene of the accident, cooperated with law enforcement, came forward and entered a plea rather than waited for a jury’s verdict.
He said Carlson has spent the majority of her life working to help others, both as a nurse and as a sexual abuse counselor.
“Miss Carlson is a very low risk of recidivism,” Huber said.
As a condition of her probation, Carlson must pay $10,230 in restitution, plus a 10 percent restitution surcharge. She must also pay court costs and supervision costs.
Huber ordered her to have an alcohol or drug assessment and abide by any treatment recommendation.
Carlson is prohibiting from possessing or consuming any illegal substances. She must report all her prescriptions to her probation agent and obtain all her prescription drugs from a single pharmacy.
Huber also ordered that Carlson perform 400 hours of community service during the final four years of her probation.