Breaking: Dees guilty of killing 9-year-old Carter Dorwin
February 11, 2011 | 03:26 PMElkhorn — The man who killed 9-year-old Carter Dorwin sobbed silently in a Walworth County court room while the District Attorney described the crash that took the boy's life.
Jeremy C. Dees, 33, pleaded no contest and was found guilty to a felony charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. When he is sentenced April 7, he will face up to 10 years in the Department of Corrections — up to five years incarceration and five years of extended supervision — and $25,000 in fines.
Dees also pleaded no contest and was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges of reckless driving causing injury. Each of those charges carry a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and $2,000 in fines.
The charges against Dees are in connection with the Nov. 16 crash which killed Carter Dorwin and injured his mother, Nicole, and brother, Bradley, 5. According to the criminal complaint, Dees was leaving the city of Lake Geneva on Highway H at a high rate of speed and was in the wrong lane of traffic at the time of the crash.
District Attorney Phillip Koss declined to offer Dees any type of plea agreement. Dees' public defender, James Duquette, said that without a plea agreement he advised Dees not to plead no contest.
However, Duquette said Dees didn't want to put the victim's family through a trial.
Although law enforcement initially suspected that alcohol or drugs was a factor in the crash, toxicology tests came back negative. Leading up to the accident, Dees reportedly exhibited bizarre behavior.
The crash reportedly occurred minutes after Dees had been at a Lake Geneva church where he was involved in an argument, removed some of his clothing and threw his cell phone. During a January hearing, Koss said that was some of Dees' odd behavior in the days leading up to the accident.
During Friday afternoon's hearing, Koss said an accident reconstruction showed Dees' vehicle was traveling faster than 50 mph after the impact. It is unknown exactly how fast Dees was traveling before the accident.
According to the complaint:
Dees was on his way back to his home in Elkhorn after going to church in Lake Geneva that morning. It was about 7 a.m. and the Dorwins were on their way to school in Lake Geneva.
Dees' green Jeep was on Highway H leaving the city of Lake Geneva limits at an estimated 75 to 80 mph, according to a witness in the complaint. The witness also stated Dees' vehicle left the roadway onto the shoulder and then continued on Highway H.
Nicole Dorwin said Dees' vehicle was completely her lane and was swerving. She said the oncoming vehicle was traveling toward her and crossed the center line before swerving back. She said it crossed again and kept heading toward her.
At that time, Dorwin said, she tried to move out of the way by pulling her vehicle off the roadway as far as she could and stopping. But Dees's vehicle struck the rear of Dorwin's vehicle, where Carter was sitting. The collision caused both vehicles to plunge into the marsh off Highway H near Park Street.
Upon arrival at the accident, the police met with Nicole, who was with Bradley. According to the criminal complaint, she told police "her other son was in the vehicle still and that he was dead."
Dees told police after he went to the church, he was returning to Elkhorn, but he did not remember anything until he awoke in the hospital.
Following the accident, police initially stated alcohol may have been a factor. However, a blood test after the crash showed there was no alcohol in Dees. Police say at the scene, Dees "blew a .03 percent" on the breath test and "he had crossed over the center line at a high rate of speed," which typically are "good indicators" that alcohol may have been a factor.
Dees has three prior drunken driving convictions, the last one being May 5, 2008. In 2009, he was convicted of disorderly conduct in Marathon County. He also has been found guilty of using a firearm while intoxicated and for bail jumping.