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Green Bay Press-Gazette
By Jessica La Plante, News-Chronicle
March 14, 2003
Brown County Sheriff’s Department investigator Christopher Amraen reads Tyson Kreuscher’s statement obtained during questioning in the hospital the day of the crash (photo by H. Marc Larson).
An officer testified Tyson Kreuscher said he meant to ram the police car but not kill the two officers in it.
Tyson Kreuscher told police he wasn’t trying to commit suicide when he crashed his Chevrolet pickup into a squad car parked near West Mason Street, a Brown County officer testified in court Thursday.
Rather, the man accused of killing two Hobart/Lawrence police officers had plans to spend the bright summer evening of July 22 jogging with his boss. But when Kreuscher turned onto West Mason Street coming home from his job at an insulation company, the 28-year-old laborer suddenly scrapped both his social plans and his 1988 pickup.
Brown County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Christopher Amraen testified that Kreuscher said he noticed a squad car parked just off West Mason Street and felt compelled to ram it.
“He told me that he saw a cop car sitting on the side of the road and intentionally drove his truck into the side of the car,” Amraen said.
Amraen was among of a long roster of officers who testified Thursday in the trial that kicked off this week in Brown County Circuit Court. Kreuscher is facing two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly causing the deaths of officers Stephanie Markins and Robert Etter. In August, he pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The trial will first determine whether Kreuscher is guilty, and if so, whether he was sane at the time he acted.
Although lawyers for the defendant admitted Kreuscher deliberately struck the squad car, they denied all suggestions he intended to kill the officers.
What motivated Kreuscher to ram the parked police car wasn’t any clearer by the time Amraen finished his testimony Thursday. When the sergeant asked Kreuscher why he caused the fatal crash, Kreuscher’s only response was, “I don’t know,'” Amraen said.
Kreuscher did tell police he didn’t mean to kill anyone, even though he confessed the ramming was deliberate, Amraen said.
Through Amraen’s testimony, jurors were given one insight into the defendant’s mind.
“I asked (Kreuscher) what he thought the outcome (of the crash) would be, and he told me he never thought about it,” Amraen said.
In a signed police statement, Kreuscher said he suffered from depression and had not taken his medication for two days before the crash.
When Amraen asked the defendant to estimate the speed his pickup was traveling just before impact, Kreuscher guessed between 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Figures provided by crash reconstructionists with the State Patrol differed by double that amount.
Trooper Duane Meyers was the last witness called to the stand to testify for the prosecution. Meyers explained the findings of a crash investigation report that calculated both the speed Kreuscher’s pickup was traveling and the force of the impact.
“All evidence suggests that essentially it was a calculated maneuver to impact the car very deep,” Meyers said.
The wheels of the pickup were embedded into the passenger side compartment of the squad car, Meyers said.
By making a sharp turn to broadside the car at 81 to 90 miles per hour, Kreuscher maximized the destruction he caused, Meyers said, adding, “If you want to damage the vehicle the most you can damage it, you’re going to hit it like this.”
Paramedics who responded to the scene called the wreck the worst crash they had ever seen. “This was as severe as I’ve ever seen a mechanism of injury,” said Daniel Gunn, a paramedic engineer with the Green Bay Fire Department.
Medical experts said the crash killed the two officers on impact.
Forensic pathologist Mark Witeck performed autopsies on both Etter and Markins the day after the collision. Witeck said each of the victims could have died from a number of injuries they received. In addition, he said some of the less severe injuries would have been life threatening.
Etter’s spinal cord and aorta were completely severed, and his brain was bleeding severely. His skull, upper and lower jaw and all of his ribs were broken during the crash. Scrapes covered his body, and there were tears in his heart, lungs, left kidney and spleen.
Markins had similar injuries, including a torn spinal cord and aorta and extensive bleeding. Her ribs were broken, and her heart, lungs, liver and left kidney were torn, Witeck said.
The homicide trial is expected to last through next week. Deputy District Attorney John Luetscher said the prosecution will be resting its case this morning.