FLORENCE, Wis. - A scheduled motion hearing for an Illinois man accused of pursuing two victims in a high speed chase turned into a plea and sentencing hearing Tuesday in Florence County Court.
Benedict Emil Sedivy, 71, of Cicero, Ill. agreed to plead no contest to one felony count of reckless endangerment-second degree. Another felony count of reckless endangerment-second degree and one felony count of aggravated battery were dismissed.
Judge Leon D. Stenz ordered Sedivy to serve six months in the Florence County Jail, two years of probation, and 150 hours of community service. The jail sentence will commence on May 25, so Sedivy has time to get his affairs in order.
In addition, Sedivy must take an anger management class and pay $8,486.62 in restitution.
The case stems from a Jan. 6 incident.
According to the criminal complaint and victim testimony, Sedivy and 46-year-old Michael Kirch got into an argument in Eagle River, Wis. regarding a video Sedivy had made of 32-year-old Nicole Christensen, Kirch's on-again-off-again girlfriend, having sexual relations with an unknown male.
Kirch admitted that he took Sedivy's camera equipment and fled the scene with Christensen.
Sedivy then pursued the pair from Eagle River to Florence County, where he rammed their vehicle at a high speed and later hit Christensen with his vehicle. Christensen suffered a bump on the head as a result of the incident.
On Tuesday, Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler was scheduled to argue a motion to include the events that occurred in Eagle River as evidence at trial. Sedivy's jury trial had been scheduled for May 29.
However, Sedivy's attorney Julie LaCost informed the court that her client was prepared to accept a plea deal.
After taking Sedivy's plea, Judge Stenz listened to each attorney's position on sentencing.
LaCost pointed out that Sedivy has accepted responsibility for his actions and has never before been in trouble.
"This is his first brush with
the law, albeit a severe brush," she said. "It was a situation that got out of hand."
LaCost added that Sedivy served in the military, was a member of the Milwaukee Symphony, and worked as a music librarian and percussionist for the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
LaCost requested that Sedivy receive a six-month jail sentence.
Drexler argued that Sedivy did not only endanger the lives of Kirch and Christensen by his actions, but he endangered the lives of all other motorists on the road at that time.
He added that the high cost of restitution was due to Christensen's hospital bill and two non-refundable plane tickets that the county had purchased to transport Kirch and Christensen from their new residence in Florida to Florence County for the trial.
Drexler requested that Sedivy receive an eight-month jail sentence.
Judge Stenz agreed with LaCost's points that Sedivy had no criminal record and that he appeared to be a hard-working individual. He also noted that, by taking Sedivy's camera equipment, Kirch was partially to blame for the incident.
However, Judge Stenz told Sedivy that he handled the situation poorly.
"Mr. Sedivy took the law into his own hands and put others at risk by his behavior," said Judge Stenz. "Had anybody gotten hurt, you would have likely gone to prison."
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.