UPDATE: Victim statements end first day of Colten Treu sentencing

Published: Mar. 9, 2020 at 10:00 AM CDT
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Tuesday marks 493 days since investigators say Colten Treu was driving down County Highway P in Chippewa County and hit and killed three Girl Scouts, one of their mothers, and hurt another girl while their troop was cleaning trash alongside the road.

This week, Treu will learn his prison sentence.

"This matter comes on today for sentencing with the defendant being convicted of five counts," said Chippewa County Circuit Court Judge James Isaacson.

Treu was convicted of four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and one count of hit and run causing great bodily harm.

Tuesday, the court heard statements from more than 25 family members and friends of the five victims.

"I lost the people I was closest to. Why should he get to be with his family when he took away my momma and sister," said Judy Schneider, mother of Sara Schneider and Grandmother of Haylee Hickle.

"As a witness to the deaths and injuries on 11/3, I saw what Colten Treu did. I never saw break lights, I never saw swerving to avoid people. These two acts could have saved lives," said Kim Helgeson, Autumn Helgeson's Mother.

"Even when the paramedics tried to revive Jayna, once they figured out there was a fifth victim separated from the rest of the group I felt anger," says Robin Kelley, Jayna Kelley's Mother. "I saw the pieces of the truck laying close to where Jayna was hit and I had never felt such anger before. Helplessness, crushing shock, and despair, but so much anger."

The court also heard a pre-recorded video statement from Treu, his family and friends.

"I didn't realize my actions could impact so many people. I don't feel there's any right words, I just feel sick a lot when I think about it," Treu said on the video.

There was also a tearful impact statement by his mother.

"I want you to know that your families have been in my mind, in my thoughts and prayers every day since this has happened. I know that I should have reached out to all of you sooner, but I'm not sure what I would have said. I'm still not sure," said Tonya Hemmersbach.

Treu faces more than 100 years in prison.

The sentencing hearing will continue Wednesday morning and is expected to wrap up sometime in the afternoon.

Tuesday's hearing started with victim impact statements from various family members of those killed in the Nov. 3, 2018 crash.

Family member statements included Ryan Zwiefelhhofer, father of Madalyn who was injured in the crash. He told the court Madalyn had an 11% chance of surviving and she will no longer have full use of her right leg. Stating she has had at least eight surgeries and could have many more to come in the future.

Kim Helgeson, mother of Autumn, said "I want Colten Treu sentenced to the maximum allowable sentence for each count. I want those sentences consecutively and not concurrently. Totaling 110 years".

She went on to say "I heard acceleration through body after body... Make no mistake, I watched my daughter suffer as she laid in a muddy cornfield and died. I saw Colten Treu in the driver's seat hit her 60 pound body and the force of the impact of that threw a hat off of her head and the shoes off of her feet and strew them across the field. She lived for nearly an hour. Her left leg was grotesquely broken. Her breath was labored. Her lung had collapsed and dirt was caked in her right ear and front teeth".

Brian Kelly, father of Jayna, said "Our Jayna was killed at the age of nine and that is the age she will forever remain in our minds. Happy memories of her get a little less vivid as the time passes".

He added, " Justice is about fairness and there is nothing fair about this situation. It isn't fair that Jayna died. It isn't fair that Autumn died. It isn't fair that Haylee died. It isn't fair that Sara died. It isn't fair that Madalyn suffered so badly".

Judy Schneider, mother of Sara and grandmother of Haylee told he court that when Haylee died "the world lost a little girl with big dreams". Adding "These words are not enough to express the loss and emptiness, the pain, the hurt of everyone in my family..."

Judge James Isaacson told the court he planned for victim impact statements to last most of the day Tuesday and final arguments would take place Wednesday.

Isaacson says the sentencing will start back up Wednesday at 9 a.m.

In December, Treu changed his plea to no contest on four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and was found guilty. Treu also pleaded guilty to one count of hit and run causing bodily harm.

In early Nov. 2018, Treu was driving down County Road P in Lake Hallie after allegedly "huffing" chemical vapors when he crashed into Girl Scout Troop 3055, killing three girl scouts, a mother, and hurting a fifth person.

The victims of the hit-and-run include Haylee Hickle, 10, Sara Schneider ,32, Jayna Kelly ,9, and Autumn Helgeson ,10. Madalyn Zwiefelhofer was injured in the crash.

Circuit Court Judge James Isaacson says all audio statements from the trial will be heard but faces of any juvenile will not be shown, as well as any adults who do not want their face shown.

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