Jennefer Lueck took her work home with her a couple months ago and hasn’t regretted it for a second.
Lueck, a veterinarian technician at Veterinary Emergency Service in Janesville, was one of the first to care for Sunny, the dog who survived severe burns from scalding water late last year.
Exactly one month after Beloit police responded to the call for Sunny’s mistreatment, the year-old Labrador-mix is healing quicker than veterinary staff anticipated.
Lueck was on duty the night Sunny was taken to the hospital, she said. Despite showing signs of pain and discomfort, Sunny rolled over wanting belly rubs.
“I knew right away she was going to come with me,” Lueck said. She is now Sunny’s foster mother.
Sunny suffered burns on her head, ears, back, shoulders and chest. About 20 percent of her surface skin was damaged or removed, The Gazette reported earlier.
The dog has undergone multiple surgeries since she has been under the care of the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, said Penny Coder, shelter veterinarian. Sunny takes antibiotics, two pain medications and anti-anxiety medication daily.
“Our veterinarian staff and foster mom have done a great job at getting Sunny way ahead of schedule,” said Brett Frazier, executive director of the humane society. “It’s really impressive to see what our people can do.”
Sunny was nervous at first, but she has gotten comfortable around people and loves playing with other dogs, Lueck said. Caring for her is like caring for any other dog.
While laying on the floor of the humane society, Sunny was calm and curious.
Her demeanor was that of any other young dog. She was not fazed by the media’s cameras or Lueck’s 8-year-old daughter Peighton, who wore a kitty-cat jumper and tiara and gently petted Sunny over a gray protective vest.
The only thing to rile Sunny up was a red toy filled with peanut butter—Sunny loves peanut butter.
“Dogs always surprise me with how much they continue to love after what they’ve been through,” Coder said. “We could tell when she came in she was a good dog.”
Lueck’s husband Austin rounds out Sunny’s foster family.
The family has fostered kittens for four to five years, Lueck said. They have another dog at home, but Sunny is their first foster dog.
Sunny will remain under foster care until she is healthy enough to be adopted, Lueck said.
It’s difficult to determine how long that will take, Coder said. She hopes Sunny will be ready to go next month.
Regardless of treatment, Sunny will never be completely “normal,” Coder said. Her ears will always be scarred, and much of her fur will not grow back.
Still, many people—seemingly hundreds, Frazier said—have contacted the humane society about adopting Sunny.
When asked if Lueck would adopt Sunny, she paused and grinned.
“If Sunny chooses she wants to stay in our home, we will have a home for her.”
Tyler Myszkewicz says two of his role models died the night of Oct. 25, 2016, when his uncle Alan M. Johnson shot his father, Ken Myszkewicz.
Tyler said he and Alan had been like brothers, that he trusted Alan perhaps more than anyone else.
But Alan “betrayed that trust,” Tyler said during his uncle’s sentencing hearing Friday in Walworth County Court. He repeatedly called Alan’s actions “reckless.”
Ken’s wife, Kimberly Myszkewicz, who is Alan’s sister, called Alan a “stranger.”
“I do not know who this person is,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly and Tyler—both wearing cycling jerseys Friday in memory of Ken, an avid cyclist—asked for the maximum prison sentence for their brother and uncle.
Walworth County Judge Kristine Drettwan said her sentencing decision was “heart-wrenching.” She ordered 25 years in prison for Alan, who was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide in November 2017. She also called for 10 years of extended supervision.
More than 20 people attended the sentencing hearing.
A jury on Nov. 7 declined to convict Alan of more serious offenses—first- or second-degree intentional homicide—which means the jury believed Alan acted with utter disregard for human life, but he did not intend to kill Ken.
Alan, 32, has said he went to the Myszkewicz home Oct. 25, 2016, to find evidence of child pornography he had seen years earlier on Ken’s computer. He brought a gun because he said he feared Ken, who had physically and sexually assaulted him and another relative before.
Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said she examined the contents of Ken’s computer, and in her experience of prosecuting child sex crimes, she could not have charged Ken based on what Alan saw.
Donohoo emphasized Ken, 43, was killed in the middle of the night, while he was naked and in his own home, by someone who brought a gun and did not have permission to be in the house. She said she could not have prosecuted Ken if he had killed Alan, based on those facts.
She asked for no less than 30 years in prison. The state Department of Corrections pre-sentence report called for 20 years.
Ken’s relatives shared what they would miss about him: his jokes, favorite foods, how he would help slower cyclists during races.
Tyler’s fiancé, Hannah Hitchcock, said she last saw Ken at a friend’s wedding, where Ken smiled at her, pointed at the bride and groom and said, “That could be you guys soon,” Hitchcock recalled.
Many people filed letters about Ken to the court, Drettwan said.
Many also wrote letters on Alan’s behalf.
One letter mentioned how Alan cooked and cleaned for his sister Nicole Carlson after her surgery. He also consistently helped her with her finances. She called him the “glue” that held the family together.
He set up college funds for his nephew and niece, according to a letter from Alan’s mother, Cathy Johnson.
Stephen Hurley, one of Alan’s lawyers, wrote in a brief before sentencing that Alan did not pose a risk to the public and should get five years in prison.
Alan has been a “model inmate” at the Walworth County Jail, which shows what kind of person he is, Hurley wrote.
Alan has helped inmates understand the charges against them. He has helped them with schoolwork, given them math worksheets and rewarded them with playing cards when they completed assignments. He created games for them to play, Hurley wrote.
So how could a person such as Alan kill someone else?
One relative wrote about how she was raped when she was 10 years old. She said she felt shame, that she has carried the burden for years, living in fear and wondering if it would happen again.
“Fear causes us to make decisions we normally wouldn’t make,” her letter reads. “He should have stopped shooting after the first shot, but with 20-plus years of pent-up hurt, anger and fear, it poured out of him as he shot (Ken).”
Alan’s father, Eric Johnson, is in declining health. He has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, post-concussion syndrome and chronic pain syndrome, according to a doctor’s note filed by the defense.
After living in New York, Alan moved back to Wisconsin and took care of his father.
“I have greater respect for Alan than any other man,” Eric wrote in his short letter. “Alan has been the stability in our family.”
That stability vanished when Alan was taken into custody.
“(Eric’s) condition has deteriorated in the context of the stress related to his son’s legal troubles, and the loss of support that occurred since his son has been incarcerated,” the letter from a Department of Veterans Affairs doctor states.
“Prior to his son’s incarceration, Mr. Johnson relied on his son routinely for both emotional support as well as to help him with getting to and from appointments and other physical support with managing day-to-day routines and activities that are challenging due to his mental health and physical disabilities.”
When Drettwan announced her sentence, Alan’s father and mother doubled over in their seats.
As his mother began to cry, his father put his arm around her.
local • 3A, 8A
Project to close part of Hwy. 14
Starting in late April 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans a six-month partial closure of a segment of Highway 14. That’s as the DOT reconstructs and upgrades a stretch of Highway 14 from just east of Deerfield Drive to Milton Avenue. The work will turn the north-side business artery from a “rural” highway to an “urban” stretch, including curb and gutter, sidewalks, and a 10-foot-wide “multi-use” trail. The closure, according to a DOT release, will shut down all lanes of traffic on Highway 14 between Pontiac Drive and Milton Avenue.
state • 2A
DNR sets fee costs for parks
The Department of Natural Resources is rolling out plans for a new pricing system for camping and daily admission at state parks that will mean higher rates at the most popular campgrounds and price cuts at parks not as popular. The DNR is raising fees for camping at 38 properties at various times this year and is cutting fees at 36 others. The biggest increases would be $7 per day and the biggest cuts would be $5 per day.
Inquiries grow more partisan
Republicans who spent the early months of 2017 working with Democrats on investigations into Russian interference in U.S. elections have pivoted as the new year begins and midterm elections loom, leaving the conclusions of those congressional probes in doubt.