Salem Lakes man pleads not guilty

By Jason Arndt

Ryan S. Peterson, 39, pleaded not guilty to charges related to a Sept. 17 hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in Trevor, at an Oct. 19 arraignment in Kenosha County Intake Court.

Peterson is due for a Feb. 15 final pre-trial hearing before Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jodi Meier.

Peterson, of Salem Lakes, previously waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Sept. 28, when court officials found probable cause a felony was committed, online court records show.

Ryan Peterson

Peterson, who was allegedly intoxicated when the crash happened at about 9:45 p.m., is charged with felony hit-and-run resulting death and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

Additionally, at his Oct. 19 arraignment, Peterson pleaded not guilty to two traffic citations, one for inattentive driving and the other for failing to notify police of an accident.

At his arraignment, Peterson had his $15,000 bond extended, which he then posted and was released, online court records state.

Conditions of his bond include no consumption of alcohol or taking controlled substances without a prescription, and no contact with the victim’s family or their residences.

According to the criminal complaint, Jackie Hutcheson, 29, was riding his bicycle northbound on the shoulder of 260th Avenue, just south of Wilmot Road in Western Kenosha County before 9:45 p.m., when Peterson allegedly struck him from behind.

Peterson, the complaint states, initially believed he hit a deer and then “became distracted as he attempted to plug in his cell phone.”

The complaint alleges Peterson, who did not stop, continued his drive home when he did not see anything in the rearview mirror.

A passing motorist, meanwhile, was traveling southbound when he saw Hutcheson.

The motorist turned around, the complaint states, telling authorities “something didn’t seem right.” Authorities were called when Hutcheson was unresponsive.

Hutcheson was later pronounced dead at the scene by the Kenosha County Medical Examiner’s Office, the complaint states.

While investigators surveyed the crash, the complaint states, Hutcheson’s mother walked towards them, and asked where “her boy was.”

The mother said Hutcheson left his family’s home, where he helped celebrate a relative’s birthday, the complaint states.

As investigators recovered parts from a Volvo vehicle, Peterson returned home, where he allegedly told his wife he believed he hit a deer.

The Petersons, after inspecting the Volvo, placed the vehicle in the garage.

Later, Peterson’s wife told investigators they moved the vehicle to shield the damages from their children, the complaint contends.

At the scene, another deputy found the bicycle, which had a reflector mounted on the spokes of the rear rim.

“He also noted that the roadway did not have street lights at that location and was dark except for a farmhouse on the west side of the road,” the complaint states.

An accident investigator, according to the complaint, said the road’s fog lines were clearly marked at that location and Peterson did not attempt to slow down or avoid Hutcheson.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth wrote an email clarifying that, contrary to initial media reports, Peterson’s wife did not turn him into authorities.

The next day, when reports surfaced of the crash, Peterson’s wife called him at work.

The wife, who works as an instructional aide at Westosha Central High School, approached a school resource officer about the crash.

“The wife saw in the morning news reports that there was a hit-and-run accident the night before near their home and called her husband at work since he told her he hit a deer the night before,” Beth said.

The school resource officer, a deputy, then contacted a detective colleague at the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Beth, the Petersons then met at their home, and returned to Westosha Central to speak with the school resource officer.

“He came home from work and both Mr. and Mrs. Peterson together travelled to Westosha Central where she knows the School Resource Officer,” Beth said.

“The two of them advised the deputy that they now believed Ryan Peterson was involved in the fatal hit and run,” Beth added.

Peterson, according to the complaint, then told authorities he had been drinking at his brother’s house before the crash, but believed he was sober.


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