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Victoria Bear found guilty of homicide

Victoria Bear was found guilty Monday in St. Croix Circuit Court of homicide by negligent use of a vehicle in connection with the death of Michael Strauch on Sept. 23.

Strauch, 55, was killed after his motorcycle struck Bear's vehicle on Coulee Road, after she pulled out in front of him from 18th Street around 6 p.m.

Strauch's widow, Barbara, and his children were in the courtroom along with other family members and friends.

At her arraignment before Judge Eric Lundell, Bear, 56, entered a plea of no contest to the felony charge. She was in court with her attorney, James Johnson of Hudson, and her ex-husband, Peter Bear. A misdemeanor charge of writing a worthless check was dismissed against Bear as a result of her plea.

Lundell asked Bear a series of questions prior to her plea to be sure she understood the charges and the consequences of becoming a convicted felon. Lundell pointed out that Bear would not be able to vote for the duration of her probation and a waiting period, she would never be able to own a firearm and she would always have to reveal her status as a convicted felon on job applications and other documents.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gehler told Lundell that his office would be recommending five years of probation and up to one year of jail time. Lundell told Bear that he was not bound by Gehler's recommendation but that he would decide her sentence based on the results of the pre-sentence investigation and his experience of 19 years on the bench. The date for sentencing was set for July 2.

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