Plea deal reached in case over deadly New Year's Day crash

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Plea deal reached in case over deadly New Year's Day crash

By WTMJ News Team. CREATED Oct 4, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 4, 2012

MILWAUKEE - A man charged in the deaths of a couple from New Berlin in a hit and run crash on New Year's Day has reached a plea deal in his case, just before it was set to go to trial.

In court this morning, Kelly Duke pleaded no contest to four charges in exchange for prosecutors dropping five others.  Among the charges Duke pleaded to are two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

He faces 45 years in prison and 30 years extended supervision.  Sentencing is set for January 11th of next year.

Duke was set to stand trial next week.

Duke was accused of causing a crash in Milwaukee that killed Ed and Jean Thaves of New Berlin this past New Year's day.  It happened in Milwaukee at 27th and St. Paul Avenue.

"This, to me, was really a blow," said Lyann Buena Franco, the victims' daughter.

Her family was angry that Duke did not admit blame.

"A no contest plea, in my mind, is only partially taking responsibility for his actions on New Years' Day," explained Edwin Thaves, the victims' son.

Duke's attorney claims his client did not remember.

"The other reason for the no-contest plea is because of the gaps in Mr. Duke's memory associated with the accident, and injuries he suffered," said his attorney.

Duke was facing a number of charges, including homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.  Prosecutors agreed to drop five of the charges.

"For him not to be sentenced now until January, my family needs closure.  We need to go on with our lives.  This has taken far too long," explained Buena Franco.

"That will be over a year since Ed and Jean were killed, and we're still waiting for justice," argued Edwin.

Duke's family chose not to speak on camera.