Is 90 days behind bars and three years probation appropriate punishment for killing an innocent mother of four? The surviving friends and family members of Tammy Gass say they are outraged at the prosecuting district attorney’s sentence recommendation for Tracy Kruzicki, who plans to plead guilty to a charge of driving with a suspended license and causing a death, a felony that carries a maximum 6-year prison sentence. Kruzicki has a history of driving violations, including two instances of driving without a license.
According to information we received from close friends and family of Tim Gass, Tammy’s husband, and this report by WAOW-TV, Tracy Kruzicki has reached a plea agreement in which the defense attorney and prosecutor will recommend a a sentence with zero to six months in jail, and several years of probation, despite the felony charge and his long arrest history. Kruzicki is scheduled to be sentenced by Marathon County Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson this Thursday, August 1 at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Marathon County Courthouse for his Class H Felony.
Dave and Karen Mikalofsky, close friends of the Gass family, contacted me at the Bike Fed to express their outrage at the plea agreement:
We were told that the DA is recommending 3 months jail time for this offense. As taxpayers and very close family friends, we are offended by this light sentence recommendation since it is clear to us that a law was broken, and a life was lost. Tammy was riding well within the paved shoulder and was wearing “hot pink” as described by a witness. Mr. Kruzicki was 22.5” outside his lane of travel. The road where the accident occurred is straight.
We appreciate any help in getting the word out regarding this light sentence recommendation. That Tammy’s kids have to grow up without a mother should be worth more than 3 months jail time.
Karen & Dave Mikalofsky
Dave Mikalofsky hopes Bike Fed members, or any citizen concerned about justice, will call or email the District Attorney and Judge Jacobson and ask that they consider harsher penalties that more closely match Kruzicki’s crime.
- Call 715-261-1111 to reach the Marathon County DA, Kenneth Heimerman
- Call 715-261-1360 for Judge Lamont Jacobson.
Tom Held has more from the Mikalofskys and additional details about about Tammy Gass in today’s blog post on The Active Pursuit. Tom also details a number of similar crashes in which the victim on the bike was innocent, the person driving the motor vehicle was clearly guilty, but similarly lenient sentences were handed down.
So what is up with killers getting a slap on the wrist? I received similar complaints about lenient punishments just last week after Christopher Schneider, 24, of Fond du lac, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation for a fatal drunken driving crash in which he hit and killed 36-year-old Eugene Dennis, who was riding his bicycle along County Trunk WH in the town of Taycheedah around 7:30 p.m.
Even though he had a blood alcohol level of .12, prior convictions for driving while intoxicated and witnesses said they saw Schneider’s vehicle suddenly veer right before he hit Dennis, he was still able to reach an agreement with Winnebago County Assistant District Attorney Adam Levin. Schneider pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree reckless homicide and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration, down from the initial charges, which were homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, homicide by use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
In addition to the greatly reduced sentence, Schneider was granted Huber privileges but was ordered each May to go to as many high schools as possible to talk about what he had done. Schneider’s license is also revoked for six months.
I contacted ADA Levin to get his reasoning, but he told me to request the court transcript. He said he made a detailed argument in court to explain his reasoning for accepting a plea agreement. I had to mail a check for $22.50 to get a copy of the transcript. I will share that here in a later blog post as soon as I get it. Failing to get a response from a judge or prosecutor today, I asked a couple attorneys who not only specialize in representing people hit while riding bicycles, they ride bikes themselves. Check out their websites, linked through their names, and you will see how committed these two attorneys are to defending the rights of people riding bicycles.
Dan Goldberg: “In my opinion, the moral of this story is we need to get a Vulnerable Users Law passed. I was driving in Illinois over the weekend, and I saw plenty of signs that said “Hit a construction worker, spend 14 years in jail.” That is a special law, similar to a vulnerable users law. These laws are needed because even if you catch a guy driving with a suspended license, you still can’t prove criminal intent.”
Clayton Greissmeyer: ”In addition to bike cases I also do criminal defense. I tried a case involving a woman who signed her husband’s name on a check for approximately $15.00 in addition to her own name. The state charged her with felony forgery. She had his permission in the past and he never told her to stop signing his name although they did split up (but were not divorced yet). The bank never cashed the check so no one was out any money. I tried to get the case dismissed multiple times but the d.a. and Judge refused and we had a jury trial and won it. Long story short, if they put that amount of time and money into a case with no victim, why not try a case involving a human being who was killed?”
I will end with another quote from Tammy and Tim Gass’ close friends, Dave and Karen Mikalofsky:
I wanted also to state that we were told by Tim Gass, Tammy’s widower, of the sentence recommendation and of his outrage of it.
A multiple offender, willingly getting behind the wheel of a vehicle he has no license to drive that murders an innocent Marathon County taxpayer is being offered 3 months of jail and 3 years probation on a charge that carries a penalty of 6 years!! What is wrong with this elected official (the D.A.’s)??
The D.A’s own mission statement reads as follows:
The mission of the Marathon County District Attorney’s Office is to use all reasonable and lawful diligence for the detection, arrest and conviction of those who break the law. District Attorney Kenneth Heimerman is the head law enforcement officer in Marathon County. In this capacity, he and his staff work with the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol and local police departments to ensure the effective, efficient and uniform enforcement of the criminal laws and the administration of criminal justice throughout the county. Each employee of the District Attorney’s Office shall adopt the highest standards of ethical behavior and professionalism.
The Marathon County District Attorney’s Office is committed to strengthening law enforcement’s relation with the public; enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Marathon County; and ensuring that crime victims be treated with sensitivity, fairness, compassion and respect. District Attorney Heimerman and his staff are committed to safety and justice for the residents of the county community.
I hardly think in this case they are anywhere near protecting the citizens of Marathon County from repeat criminals like Mr. Kruzicki.
Thanks so much for your time and efforts.
Dave and Karen Mikalofsky