Trial focuses on who was driving in deadly crash
The trial of a Merrill woman accused of driving in a June 2012 crash that claimed two lives started Monday. In opening statements, special prosecutor Tara Jenswold said the state will show that the defendant, Ashley Baumann, 26, was driving when the vehicle crashed on Alexander Street early on the morning of June 7, 2012.
Defense attorney Wright Laufenberg, however, offered a different scenario in which the other surviving occupant of the vehicle, Jerrica Woller, 31, could have taken the wheel shortly before the crash.
By all accounts, the four occupants of the vehicle, Baumann, Woller, Misty Glisch and Woller’s sister, Jessica Hartwig, were all drinking at a tavern after a softball game on the evening of June 6. They left the tavern at around 2 a.m. in Baumann’s black Pontiac Grand Prix.
Investigators were able to track their path of travel using data from Glisch’s cell phone. The car traveled to the Jackson Street apartments, stopped at a residence on Heldt Street and shortly after crashed at high speed into a field on Alexander Street. Glisch and Hartwig were killed, while Baumann and Woller were seriously injured.
Jenswold said a photo taken with Glisch’s phone at the Heldt Street stop showed Baumann in the driver’s seat. After that stop, however, Woller testified Tuesday that she told Baumann to stop the car because she was driving recklessly. Baumann said she would slow down and Woller got back into the back seat of the vehicle, she said.
It is at this point, Laufenberg argued, that they could have switched drivers.
When police arrived on the scene of the crash at around 3:30 a.m. on June 7, Woller was the only occupant who was conscious and ambulatory. She was seated in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The bodies of Glisch and Hartwig were found ejected from the vehicle and Bauman was found alive in a thicket of brush several feet from the vehicle, according to testimony given Tuesday by Merrill Police officer Matt Drebek.
Baumann is charged with seven felony counts related to the accident. She told investigators she remembers leaving the tavern in her vehicle, but doesn’t recall who was driving.
The trial began with jury selection Monday and is scheduled to last seven days.