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17 years for OWI crash that killed man

  • Associated Press
  • April 11, 2014 - 2:50 PM

OSHKOSH, Wis. — A driver who had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit has been sentenced to 17 years in prison after he crashed into another vehicle, killing an elderly man and injuring his wife in Winnebago County.

Eighty-year-old Robert Zentner was killed. His wife of more than 60 years, Phyllis Zenter, was injured. The 82-year-old widow said William Doemel took away the person who had been the center of her life since she was 16.

"I still start to tell him something until I remember I'm talking to an empty chair in an empty room," Zentner, told the court, while choking back tears at Thursday's sentencing.

Winnebago County Circuit Judge Karen Seifert on Thursday also ordered 10 years of extended supervision to follow Doemel's prison sentence.

"When people have been together and had a life together that long, it's not unlike losing a limb," Seifert said. "It's a part of you that's gone when you lose a spouse of that many years."

Doemel, 58, ran a stop sign in the town of Nekimi in December of 2012 and struck the Zentners' car. Doemel had a blood alcohol content of 0.28 as well as traces of marijuana in his system, Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported (http://oshko.sh/1gfqwLu ).

Doemel said he does not remember the events leading up to the crash and claimed Thursday that he had not been drinking, but instead had lapsed into a diabetic coma just before the crash.

© 2014 Star Tribune