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home : top stories : top stories August 28, 2014


10/30/2013 12:17:00 PM
Birkenmeier sentenced to 10 years prison
Troy B. Birkenmeier
Troy B. Birkenmeier
Eileen Nimm
Chronotype staff

From her nursing home bed, 41-year old Stacy Witkowski, her gaunt body dressed in a hospital gown, told Barron County Judge James Babler that her now ex-husband should go to prison for a very long time.
"I wanted the judge to hear me and see me so he knows what Troy did," a severely and permanently disabled Witkowski said in garbled language as she held her finger over a hole in her throat so that she could talk.
That videotaped comment came Tuesday, Oct. 29 from Witkowski in Barron County Circuit Court where Troy B. Birkenmeier of New Auburn was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a conviction of felony first-degree reckless injury, 5 years shy of the maximum prison sentence. After serving his prison term, Birkenmeier, 28, must spend 10 years on extended supervision.
Witkowski told the judge that she gets hope by thinking that she could be a spokesperson for domestic abuse so that others don't have to suffer what she has suffered. "I've had to learn how to do everything all over again," Witkowski said from the screen.
The criminal complaint states that the Birkenmeiers were arguing June 24, 2012 at around midnight when Birkenmeier allegedly hit Witkowski's head repeatedly against the wooden floor of the house to the point of her losing consciousness and suffering severe brain damage.
Stacy's 12-year old daughter ran to the house of a neighbor who then called 911. She was airlifted to an Eau Claire hospital and later transferred to a nursing home.
Witkowski remained in a coma for 7 months. Family members anguished over the decision to take her off life support. Then she emerged from the coma by what she said was an act of God.
District Attorney Angela Beranek recommended the maximum sentence for Birkenmeier, who's uncontrollable anger, she said, has robbed Witkowski's family and loved ones of a mother, daughter, sister and friend.
"He can and will offend again," said Beranek. "He brutally beat her head against the wooden floor repeatedly to get her to shut up,"
She said Witkowski's daughter and 15-year old son were home at the time of the domestic abuse incident. "The sights and sounds of that night will forever be burned in their minds," Beranek said. Not only have they lost their mother and home, but they have had to change schools and move away from their family and friends, she said.
She said this wasn't the first time that Birkenmeier got into trouble because of his anger. Beranek said that while he was in the Marines, Birkenmeier pointed a weapon at another Marine. She said after a fellow Barron County jail inmate flicked a playing card at Birkenmeier's head, the defendant grabbed the inmate by the throat, pushed him up against a wall, and told the inmate, "Don't f--- with me!"
Defense attorney Elizabeth Smith recommended that Birkenmeier be placed on probation. She did not plead Birkenmeier's case in court but said that Birkenmeier had prepared a letter he wanted to read to the judge. Birkenmeier told Babler that he'd been a U.S. Marine and served two tours of duty in Iraq.
He said while growing up in Rice Lake, he attended parochial school and eventually became an Eagle Scout. He told the judge all he'd accomplished in his 16 months of jail while undergoing prosecution.
He said he took advantage of all the programs offered in jail, including an anger management program and attending in-jail Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He said his faith in God had been restored and he's read the Bible three times and has lost 70 pounds.
It was after he returned from his second tour of duty that he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Birkenmeier said. He said he became very angry, took up drinking and abandoned everything he learned as a child.
"I was appalled by my actions," Birkenmeier said of the June 24 incident. But now he said he knows what he should have done differently, has again found direction and wanted to devote his life to helping other veterans in similar situations.
In sentencing Birkenmeier, Babler said his was not a case for probation. He likened the case to many other domestic abuse cases throughout the county, state and country. He said given the gravity of the offense, it was by the grace of God that he didn't kill Witkowski.
"You are a real danger to the next person with whom you have a significant relationship," Babler told Birkenmeier. He said because of him, Witkowski would never be the same.
Birkenmeier was ordered not to have any contact with Witkowski or her family. He was given credit for 491 days already served in jail while undergoing prosecution.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013
Article comment by: Diane Geissler

The punishment never fits the crime in Barron County....why should someone who molests a child or beats his wife to minutes of death only get 10 years??? What does the victim get??? They get life!!!!! And the judges that sentence these guys....well they will face their "judge" someday.....He won't be so gracious!!!!

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Article comment by: Randall R. Kniess

@ Nicole Kallenbach-Auchampach- Amen to that. I just cringe when I hear a defense attorney say that a jerk like this should be placed on probation. As for Mr. Birkenmeier's excuse of PTSD, bull crap. Not all men who joined the Marine's and served, are Marines forever. This one is a disgrace to the Corp.
And as for the sentence handed out, shame on Judge "Milquetoast" Babler. If this creep has served that amount of time in jail and is credited with good time, he could be beating women again in 6 years or so.

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article comment by: Nicole Kallenbach-Auchampach

I guess I don't understand why Birkenmeier didn't recieve the 15 year maximum in this case. In the article it was stated, "In sentencing Birkenmeier, Babler said his was not a case for probation." "He said given the gravity of the offense, it was by the grace of God that he didn't kill Witkowski."
"You are a real danger to the next person with whom you have a significant relationship," Babler told Birkenmeier.
If Babler really feels that Birkenmeier to be a danger to his next person he's in a relationship with, then why allow him to do that in 10 years as opposed to 15 years.
I would have liked to see this guy go away for a lot more than 15 years, but understand that prosecution may not have been able to support a attempted murder charge, etc. But, a maximum possible for what he was found guilty of, was definately what should have been given.

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