August 12, 2014 | 10:05 AMELKHORN — A Walworth County jury found a 48-year-old Lake Geneva woman guilty of driving drunk with her 10-year-old daughter in the vehicle.
When Debra Stanislawski is sentenced Oct. 16, she faces up to 12 years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
Stanislawski, a former Spring Grove, Ill., elementary school speech pathologist, has three prior convictions for drunken driving.
Stanislawski was arrested on Jan. 15, 2013, after her child allegedly ran out of Stanislawski’s vehicle and into Central-Denison Elementary School.
Inside of the school, which the girl doesn’t attend, she reportedly hid under a secretary’s desk until police arrived.
The girl reportedly told police her mother had been drinking and was driving, according to court testimony.
When police arrived on the scene, they report that Stanislawski was in her vehicle outside of the school.
Police could smell alcohol on Stanislawski’s breath, her speech was slurred and she had bloodshot eyes, according to the criminal complaint.
Stanislawski’s prior drunken driving convictions were for offenses that occurred on Aug. 20, 1995; Dec. 17, 2010 and July 20, 2012, the complaint states.
The July 20 arrest stems from an incident in Illinois where she was arrested on U.S. Highway 12 in Richmond, Ill.
According to an article in the Northwest Herald, Stanislawski’s daughter was in the car during that incident.
During a recess from the jury trial, Stanislawski spoke to the Regional News to explain why she took the case to trial.
Without admitting guilt, she said that the final offer she received from the state was one year in prison and one year of extended supervision.
“I have more trust in the jury than I do in the state,” she said.
Stanislawski added that she had been screened for the Walworth County OWI court after her arrest, and she was found eligible for the program.
In February 2013, Katie Behl, the treatment court coordinator, sent an email to former Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld stating that she had screened Stanislawski for the OWI court and found her eligible from a “screening stand point.”
“She’s going through a divorce, which is what started her downfall,” Behl wrote.
Wiedenfeld later responded that after talking to the victim’s father he wouldn’t accept the treatment court agreement.
“I feel there has been a bias throughout,” Stanislawski said on Monday morning. “I have not won one motion in this county.”
In June, Judge David Reddy rejected a motion filed by Stanislawski to have her case dismissed after video evidence recorded by the Lake Geneva Police Department was destroyed.
The squad car video of Stanislawski being transported to the hospital was accidentally erased from police records.
During a motion hearing, Stanislawski argued that the video would have shown jurors exculpatory evidence.
In a previous interview, Lake Geneva Police Lt. Edward Gritzner said it was a technical issue that caused the recording to delete.
He said it was a fluke, and that this is the only time he has known it to happen and he is comfortable that it won’t happen again.
“We had a procedure in place at the time, and we still do, our data entry clerks go and download that video to disk and place it in our evidence room,” Gritzner said. “That one, for whatever reason, never recorded, there was technical glitch.”