By Joe Bachman
Editor of Portage County Gazette, Stevens Point City Times – MMC Publications
STEVENS POINT — A Tigerton woman was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, with 10 years extended supervision for the 2017 drunk driving death of an Antigo man.
Nearly a year in the making, on July 8, 2017, then 29-year-old Billie Jo McSherry struck a motorcycle while driving drunk, taking the life of 48-year-old Antigo resident Robert Korhonen, and severely injuring his passenger, Stacey Zarda. This occurred on State Highway 49, in Portage County.
Earlier this year, she entered in a guilty plea for charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle. It was the third time McSherry was found guilty of drunk driving in seven years.
“His death was a total ripple — and they never end.”
Nearly half-a-dozen victim witness statements were read in court, most of which are at an emotional loss over the death of Korhonen, who was seen a valued member of the Antigo community. As one victim put it in her statement, “I want you to take my pain, and feel what I feel.”
Assistant Portage County District Attorney Cass Cousins recognized the severity of McSherry’s actions.
“Nothing even comes close to the pain that is in this courtroom right now,” said Cousins to Judge Robert Shannon. “The people who have addressed the court today have better expressed than I how this offense is so far beyond almost comprehension. This was truly a person who was at the heart of the family and the heart of a community.”
Cousins pointed out that McSherry drove that afternoon under the influence with a BAC of .258, four times over the legal limit. She had her then 9-year-old daughter in the vehicle as McSherry veered into the opposite lane, resulting in the lethal crash.
McSherry’s attorney’s painted a picture of the defendant as a troubled youth, who in her earlier years was a victim of sexual assault, bullying, and as a result, made multiple suicide attempts through her life. She suffered forms of mental illness, and according to her attorney, attempted to take her own life weeks before the incident.
“I will forever be haunted by my bad choices,” said a tearful McSherry to the judge in her statement. “I relive the images in my mind everyday when I’m awake, and in my nightmares.”
Judge Shannon would call McSherry’s actions “selfish and reckless” during his statement before sentencing.