Carlos M. Ward, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to striking a woman and her service dog with his vehicle in Waukesha, killing the dog, was sentenced Friday morning to two years probation and four months jail.
Ward, 30, was convicted on March 13 of felony hit and run, causing injury, after striking Deborah Schultz and her dog last June as they were crossing at the intersection of North Barstow Street and South Street. Ward fled the scene after hitting Schultz, who was treated at Waukesha Memorial Hospital for a fractured foot. The dog, Lexie, died shortly after the incident. Schultz said at the March 22 sentencing hearing for Ward that the dog helped her cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, the result of her husband’s death in a car accident.
“She woke me up from nightmares,” Schultz tearfully told the courtroom.
Ward, a Milwaukee resident who worked in Waukesha, was arrested days later after an officer positively identified his vehicle based on witnesses’ statements. Ward confessed to hitting the woman and her dog, telling police he panicked when he fled the scene. He said he was very sorry for what he did.
The maximum sentence for the hit and run, nine months in prison, was imposed by Judge Donald Hassin but stayed in lieu of two years probation and four months jail.
Schultz was in attendance at Friday’s sentencing, along with friends and family. She read a prepared statement before the Judge, describing the impact the incident has had on her and her family.
“I used to be active,” she said. “I’ve lost the ability to care for my father, who is disabled and in a wheelchair.”
Schultz choked on her words as she described how she felt losing Lexie.
“The leash was taut, as she was still attached to my wrist,” Schultz said. “I will never forget the sound of her dragging under his truck.”
Schultz said, in closing, the maximum sentence – nine months – will last a relatively short amount of time, but her pain will last a lifetime.
Ward’s defense attorney Anthony Rosario argued that Ward was a good, honest man who made a terrible mistake.
“He panicked,” Rosario said. “That is not a legal excuse, that is just something people do.”
Ward, speaking in his own defense, echoed these sentiments.
“I had never had any trouble with the law and I was scared,” he said.
Ward had no prior criminal record, but had been cited for several traffic violations, including driving on a suspended license and operating a vehicle without proof of insurance, both in 2011, according to court records. Schultz said that Ward did not have insurance when he struck her.
Hassin said that he took into consideration Ward’s lack of a criminal record in his sentencing.
However, he was skeptical of Ward’s guilt, pointing out that the man did not turn himself in.
“You failed yourself and failed your community on this day,” he said.
Schultz said after the sentencing that she was happy with the judgment and thanked everyone that supported her. She said she has a new dog now, named Hudson, but she could never replace Lexie.