ELLSWORTH, Wis. (AP) — A woman accused of texting before a 2013 crash that killed her daughter and two nieces went on trial Monday in western Wisconsin.
Pierce County prosecutors said 35-year-old Kari Jo Milberg of Centuria was sending and receiving Facebook messages just before she lost control of her SUV on Highway 35 near Prescott and collided with a truck.READ MORE: Authorities Searching For Man Who Escaped From Northern Minnesota Corrections Facility
Milberg’s 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, and her two 5-year-old nieces, Laynie Jo Amos and Clara Pavek, were killed.
Prosecutor Sean Froelich said Milberg “drove right into the path of the truck,” KARE-TV (http://kare11.tv/28Y8u3Y) reported.
Milberg said she remembers nothing from the December 2013 crash. She is charged with three felony counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
Investigators found Milberg’s phone at the crash scene months later after the snow melted. Milberg’s attorney has suggested the defendant’s daughter may have been the one using the phone.
Prosecutors contend it was a case of distracted driving. A message was sent to a Milltown man from Milberg’s phone just moments before the crash.READ MORE: Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine Leads Coaching Diversity Workshop
When investigators searched the phone’s data history, they uncovered messages sent near the time of the crash. One of those messages read, “I’ll meet you for lunch,” said Froelich. He urged jurors to pay close attention to the context of the Facebook messages as well as the timing.
The last message was sent 27 seconds before 911 was called by a witness who was behind Milberg’s vehicle, Froelich said.
Defense attorney Aaron Nelson emphasized that the crash was an accident caused by slippery roads and worn tires. Nelson told jurors that Milberg was driving normally and that her tires were too worn to handle the winter weather.
Because of the traumatic brain injury she suffered in the crash, Milberg suffers from amnesia and has “no memory of what happened there at all,” Nelson said.
The first witness called was Officer Adam Olson from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. He testified that there was snow on the shoulder of the roadway at the crash scene but not on the road itself.
Milberg’s trial is expected to last five days.MORE NEWS: Baby Formula Shortage: Biden To Invoke Defense Production Act (CBS NEWS)
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)