MUSKEGO — A South Milwaukee man, 22, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of homicide by reckless use of a vehicle for striking and killing two bicyclists with his SUV two years ago in Muskego.
Brett Hartley is being allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges and the prosecutor will ask for a sentence of six years in prison and six years extended supervision. He was originally charged with two counts of second-degree reckless homicide in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
Hartley is slated to be sentenced June 22.
Killed were friends Paul Brown, 45, of Franklin and Anthony Oliver, 54, of Oak Creek, who were out for a morning ride.The accident happened on Loomis Road and Muskego Dam Drive about 6:30 a.m. June 6, 2015.
According to the criminal complaint, Hartley had alcohol in his system but his blood level was under the legal limit for driving. He had, however, been up all night partying, the complaint says.
Also according to the complaint, Hartley told police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, a statement confirmed by one of the witnesses who said he saw Hartley's eyes closed while the vehicle was in motion.
He and two passengers were coming from Richfield. After the accident, the complaint says he was extremely upset, had been hyperventilating and dry heaving.
The court and Judge Lloyd Carter who will sentence Hartley listened to and read some heart wrenching statements by the victims' family and friends.
Brown's widow Ronelle Brown said, "There can be no 'healing' from this. There is no 'recovery, no 'forgetting.' This huge hole cannot be repaired. This loss is permanent and it is massive."
"I do have many happy memories to comfort me, but there is a void in my present and my future that can never be filled," she said. "Like an amputee, I am learning to function. But I can never get back what has been taken from me..."
In a written message to the court, Oliver's widow, Laetitia Oliver, wrote, "You learn to live with the hole in your heart, you don't ask why anymore, because there are no answers."
"The memories are so precious, but also are so hurtful because it reminds you of how things were and how it is gone," she wrote. ""Every morning, I ask myself, how am I going to survive this indescribable pain where it feels like someone has ripped my heart out."
Tony Oliver had helped their older daughter Nicole plan her wedding and even got ordained so he could marry her and the bridegroom in 2014.
"He danced the father-daughter dance with her with so much love in his eyes that it made people cry," his widow wrote.
Nicole wrote to the judge, "My father was our family's sun." He was "the eipicenter of all that was good, warm and brilliant in our family."
"He cared for and uplifted all people that surrounded him," Nicole Oliver wrote. In trying to make the judge understand the kind of grief the family is suffering, she wrote, " I'm talking about the kind of grief that smothers any fragment of joy or hope in your life to death. The kind of grief that simultaneously drains every ounce of livelihood from your body but won't let you have a moment's rest."
Oliver's younger daughter Danielle wrote, "I went from being someone that loved hugging others to now I can barely stand being touched."
"Things don't exactly get better,but you become used to it and I just have to remind myself that this is my life now and there isn't much we can do about it."
Brown's widow wrote, "Paul was so passionate. He cared deeply and gave selflessly of himself."
"You have shown me no remorse," she said of Hartley. In Facebook photos, he appears to be partying with friends, she said. "If Mr. Hartley is sentenced to six years in prison, he will be about 29 when he is free to live his life again," she wrote. The Browns had no children.