A 35-year-old Wisconsin mother by the name of Kari Milberg, who was accused of using Facebook messenger 19 seconds before causing a crash that killed her 11-year-old-daughter and her two nieces, – both 5 – was acquitted Wednesday of all charges, according to KARE 11.
On December 12, 2013, Milberg was involved in a car crash that killed three children, including her daughter. Her three-year-old son was also in the vehicle, but was not harmed nor were any of the passengers in the other vehicle.
Shortly after she was arrested and charged with “three felony counts of criminal negligence” after investigators uncovered that she may have lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an oncoming truck, driven by 24-year-old Jose Mendoza, because she was texting and driving.
Una madre chateaba al volante con un fatal resultado: La policía descubrió que Kari Jo Milberg participaba en… http://t.co/xFjNuND9XV
— Compa Ulises Montes (@UlMontes) March 11, 2015
Documents stated that police officials initially blamed bad weather and worn out tires for causing the single mother of two to lose control of her vehicle, but after viewing her cell phone, which was found four months after the crash, it indicated that she was exchanging text messages with a friend named Jason McKenzie just seconds before the fatal crash, leading investigators to believe that she was at fault.
Reports say the two were talking about meeting up for a lunch date, jokingly expressing how nervous they were about their meet up. But when McKenzie testified in court, sources said that he was “uncooperative,” telling the court that he doesn’t recall ever sending text messages to the defendant.
He went on to say that he “just heard there was an accident” and doesn’t know anything else.
However, while in court Wednesday, the Wisconsin woman’s defense attorney stated that the prosecutor’s attempt to prove that his client had been texting and driving was “nothing but misdirection.” He added that the text messages found in Milberg’s phone should not be enough to convict her of three felony counts of criminal negligence.
“That is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt by any stretch. The government’s got nothing more than guesses and speculation.”
The defense attorney went on to remind the court that the fatal crash was evidently caused by “bad tires and slippery roads” from the snow, not from texting and driving as those messages could have been sent from one of the children in the vehicle.
Trooper Trent Betley, who was at the scene of the crash, also testified in court, stating that although the roads were slippery from the snow, “it did not appear that environmental factors would have been a contributing factor in this crash,” as the defense attorney claimed.
The Pierce County District Attorney Sean Froelich argued that the conversations found in Milberg’s text messages were not from any of the children in the vehicle because they were “adult conversation.” He added, “Think about who is in the vehicle.”
“Ms. Milberg had no business being on that phone, driving down that highway with those children.”
The prosecutor went on to say that “this is a horrible tragedy and it’s been increasingly obvious that texting and driving is on the rise and it’s something we want to focus on. I respect the jury’s verdict, but regardless of the outcome, it doesn’t change the fact that three kids lost their lives in this crash.”
Tears flowed after a Wisconsin woman was acquitted by a jury in a vehicular homicide case: https://t.co/Y1kholGjxm
— Mike Longaecker (@Longaecker) June 29, 2016
However, according to Fox 8 Cleveland, after the prosecutor and defense attorney gave their closing arguments, a jury of three men and nine women – who deliberated for less than two hours – reached a verdict at 6 p.m. Wednesday, finding Kari Milberg not guilty of homicide by negligence.
Milberg “sobbed and kicked her feet” in relief after learning she was acquitted of all charges. Shortly after she was “escorted out of the courtroom and into an awaiting car,” refusing to make any statements.
[Photo by Getty Images/Pool]