UPDATE: Family of murder victims and suspect ask lawmakers to en - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Family of murder victims and suspect ask lawmakers to end "voluntary intoxication" defense

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The family members of two murder victims and their accused killer joined forces Thursday, asking state lawmakers to eliminate a statute that allows a defendant to argue they were too drunk to be responsible for their criminal actions.

Some members of the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary were brought to the verge of tears and all of them vowed to change state statute, after hearing what happened in the trial of Brian Cooper in Door County last year.

But the story of his alleged crimes begins in August of 2012, his sister's wedding day.

"The morning after my brother walked me down the aisle of my wedding, he awoke Alisha, got on top of her, and as she begged for her life and the life of her unborn daughter, strangled her until there was no more life in her eyes," said Kelly Stryker, Cooper's sister, who is joining the family of victim Alisha Bromfield  in asking for the change.

"The tragedy didn't end there," said Bromfield's mother, Sherry Ancich.  "After killing her, he undressed Alisha and raped her."

Brian Cooper then admitted, in both a 911 call and a subsequent police interview, that he murdered the pregnant Bromfield and then raped her.

He was charged with two counts of intentional homicide and one count of sexual assault.
   
"When I learned that his defense team was using not guilty by reason of voluntary intoxication, I could not believe that this could be a defense for such a brutal murder," said Ancich.

But not only was it a legitimate defense, it was one that worked for Brian Cooper.

"It was never a trial to see if Cooper committed these murderous acts, but a trial to see if he was too drunk to form intent," said Ancich.

Two jurors couldn't make a determination on that question, which led to a hung jury.

"I believe all the factors, both moral and legal, support the passage of this legislation and the removal of voluntary intoxication defense from our statutes," said Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), who wrote Assembly Bill 780.

The families affected by the actions of Brian Cooper pushed committee members to pass the bill quickly.

"When we blame alcohol for this type of behavior, we take responsibility off their shoulders," said Stryker.

"This law allows murderers like Brian Cooper escape justice and sets a horrible precedence for other criminals," said Ancich.

Brian Cooper was convicted on one count of third-degree sexual assault and will face a re-trial on the murder charges this June.

Committee Chair Jim Ott (R-Mequon) vowed to the family that he would try to fast-track AB 780 so it could be passed before the end of the current legislative session in April.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Lawmakers on the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary heard emotional testimony Thursday morning from relatives of both the victims and suspect in a 2012 Door County murder.

After confessing several times to the murder of ex-girlfriend Alisha Bromfield and the baby she was carrying, a hung jury allowed 36 year-old Brian Cooper to walk away from two homicide charges on the defense of voluntary intoxication.

In a taped interview, Cooper told police he had been drinking at his sister's wedding, and then later at the resort where he and Bromfield were staying in August of 2012. On the recording, he tells police he thought about killing her and "snapped" when she refused to watch the TV show "24" with him.

Cooper is accused of strangling Bromfield to death and then raping her post-mortem.  A jury convicted Cooper of the rape, finding him guilty of third-degree sexual assault.  But the jury failed to reach a verdict on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Two jurors said they couldn't vote for a conviction, because the voluntary intoxication defense argued by Cooper's lawyer made it unclear to them if he could have known what he was doing.

Assembly Bill 780 would remove voluntary intoxication as a criminal defense.  Bromfield's parents asked the committee members to approve AB 780, as did Cooper's sister.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.

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