Family pushes to change "voluntary intoxication" law

Family members of Alisha Bromfield testify in front of an Assembly committee in Madison on Thurs, Feb. 27, 2014. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)
Family members of Alisha Bromfield testify in front of an Assembly committee in Madison on Thurs, Feb. 27, 2014. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)

MADISON - A grieving family wants to change a state law.

Twenty-one-year-old Alisha Bromfield of Plainfield, Ill., was allegedly strangled and killed by her friend in Door County in 2012. Bromfield's unborn daughter also died.

Bromfield's mother, Sherry Anicich, told an Assembly committee Thursday that a current law may prevent that man from being convicted of murder.

Brian Cooper, also of Plainfield, was charged with first degree-intentional homicide in Bromfield's death. Bromfield and Cooper were in Door County for a wedding.

During a trial last year, Cooper claimed he was so intoxicated he couldn't form intent to kill Bromfield. The trial ended with a hung jury.

"I could not believe that this could be a possible defense for such a gruesome murder," said Anicich.

That defense, known as voluntary intoxication, is legal. Bromfield's family is working to eliminate it, despite the fact it will not affect Cooper's re-trial.

Cooper's sister, Kelly Stryker, testified in support of the bill.

"He still has not taken responsibility for his actions," said Stryker. "The way the law is currently written leads to these types of injustices."

The law has been in place since 1988. Lawmakers have tried to repeal it three times, with no success.

State Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, hopes this time will be different. He says this is the first time there is a clear, high-profile example of the law denying justice.

No one testified against the change.

Nass says voluntary intoxication would still be able to be used in cases, but at the judges discretion, not the defendant's.

At the end of the hearing, State Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, who chairs the committee, told Bromfield's family he hopes to get the bill moving quickly.

The committee will likely meet again in the next two weeks and determine whether to send the bill to the Assembly floor. The Assembly could take up the bill in the middle of March.

"I plead to you today to move this bill forward to bring justice to my daughter and granddaughter and protect other victims of such crimes," said Anicich.

Even though his first trial ended with a hung jury, Cooper was convicted of having sex with Bromfield's body. He is scheduled for another trial in May.