Former bishop convicted of homicide charge - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Former bishop convicted of homicide charge

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Former Lutheran bishop Bruce Burnside was convicted of a reckless homicide charge in the 2013 death of Sun Prairie jogger Maureen Mengelt, who was hit and killed by Burnside's SUV, as he drunkenly drove into the 52-year old mother of three, and drove off.

The homicide conviction and a first offense drunk driving conviction came Tuesday as the result of a plea agreement, with other charges, including hit and run causing death, dismissed, but read into the court record.

Assistant Dane County district attorney Emily Thompson says the agreement represents a reasonable conclusion, with the homicide charge's penalties as serious as OWI homicide, and with issues in the case vulnerable to appeals, and possible delays in the case of one to two years.

The victim's husband, Kevin Mengelt said last week he was disappointed with the terms of the deal, maintaining it did not capture the extent of Burnside's wrongdoing.

"The district attorney's office wanted the certainty of a conviction and I do understand that," Mengelt said Tuesday.  Mengelt reiterated there's overwhelming evidence of Burnside's guilt on several of the charged, felony crimes. Mengelt also said there's evidence Burnside texted someone about his drinking prior to driving on the day of the collision, and was texting at the time of the crash. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has yet to return a call from 27 News seeking comment on Mengelt's claims.

Burnside has been free on bail for more than a year, but Tuesday declined to object to Thompson's proposal to revoke his bail, as he awaited sentencing in a couple of months. Judge Nicholas McNamara revoked Burnside's bail, and he was taken into custody.

An overflow court gallery watched as McNamara agreed with Thompson the proposed plea agreement was proper, balancing consequences for the seriousness of drunken driving, with a defendant's constitutional rights. McNamara had previously dismissed the results of Burnside's field sobriety testing, ruling there was not probable cause to administer the test, and the officer's testing methods were faulty.

The agreement involves prosecutors asking for no more than a eight year prison sentence for Burnside. Burnside's attorney, John Hyland, says even though Burnside could ask for jail and probation as a sentence, he will not oppose a prison sentence.

For more on this developing story, visit wkow.com and watch 27 News.

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