Thayer, 38, bound for trial after pleading not guilty

By Jason Arndt

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jodi Meier raised the bond of an accused drunken driver who is charged with killing a 53-year-old grandmother in a crash on New Year’s Day, but the Town of Paris man posted it a day later.

Christopher Thayer, 38, who pleaded not guilty at a Jan. 12 preliminary hearing before court commissioner David R. Berman, then moved to the courthouse, where the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to increase his bond from the original $25,000.

Christopher Thayer

After the motion hearing, Meier called the original bond “grossly inadequate” and increased it to $150,000, which Thayer posted the following day.

The District Attorney’s Office sought a higher bond, considering the initial bail was insufficient, and believing it would not assure Thayer’s appearance at future court proceedings.

“The state filed its bond motion asking the court to raise bond to $250,000 in the opinion that the $25,000 originally set is insufficient to ensure the defendant’s compliance with the conditions of the bond and to ensure his appearance in court,” said Deputy District Attorney Angelina Gabriele, who mentioned Thayer’s alleged refusals for a safe ride home on New Year’s Day.

Thayer, who faces charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, also left a 7-year-old boy injured in the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint alleges Thayer spent about six hours on New Year’s Day at Rivals Tavern, 6325 120th Ave., where he consumed anywhere between eight to nine alcoholic beverages.

“He remained there until about 5:30, 6 p.m. when his friends decided to leave and attempted for at least a half hour to get Mr. Thayer to take their offer of a safe and secure ride home,” Gabriele told Meier.

After his friends left, according to the complaint, multiple acquaintances made similar offers, including one who was willing to pay for Uber transportation.

Instead, Thayer rejected these offers, and decided to drive home in his Toyota Tundra.

Thayer, according to the criminal complaint, was driving westbound on Highway K at a high speed, and passed a motorist who told deputies he did not return to the westbound lane.

“He proceeded to pass a vehicle on a two-lane highway, never reverting back to his original lane of traffic, causing this head-on collision,” said Gabriele, recounting the criminal complaint.

The head-on collision, which happened in the 12300 block of Highway K in the Village of Bristol, claimed the life of 53-year-old Djuana Latshaw.

Latshaw, according to the complaint, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Latshaw’s passenger, her 7-year-old grandson, suffered serious injuries, Gabriele said at the Jan. 12 motion hearing.

“The young child suffered a broken pelvis,” she said. “He is using walker because of that injury.”

Gabriele also revealed the boy has experienced double vision, and plans to see a neurologist, who could determine if he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

She also released the preliminary blood alcohol concentration of Thayer, who allegedly registered a .22 BAC, nearly three times the legal limit in Wisconsin.

Along with Thayer’s alleged BAC, investigators recovered the black box from Thayer’s vehicle, which indicated he traveled at least 78 mph in the 45 mph zone.

“The penalties that Mr. Thayer is facing is significant, and as a result, the state is requesting to raise his bond,” Gabriele said.

The defense, meanwhile, argued the original bond was reasonable.

“He has substantial ties to the community, he lives in Kenosha County, and he has no prior convictions,” said Thayer’s attorney, Jonathan LaVoy. “The purpose of bail is not to punish.”

“He has abided by the conditions up to this point,” he added.

Meier, who took Thayer’s compliance and lack of criminal record under consideration, decided to raise the bond due to his ability to pay, strength of evidence, and constant refusals to receive a safe ride home.

“There were multiple opportunities to avoid this circumstance,” said Meier.

Meier, furthermore, considered Thayer’s income, which is from his construction business.

“I know that he owns a small business that has 18-20 employees. Common sense tells me that business generates a healthy income, with that many employees,” she said.

Meier, however, reiterated a presumption of innocence and stressed the raised bond should not “considered punitive in nature.”

Thayer, who was bound over for trial at his preliminary hearing, is scheduled to make a pre-trial appearance on Feb. 12.

As conditions of his bond, Thayer cannot consume alcohol, contact witnesses and must refrain visiting taverns, and comply with electronic monitoring.


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