In September 2017, Kimberly Adams watched as her daughter was sentenced to prison for killing a woman by driving drunk.
Three months later, Adams herself was arrested for a drunken-driving crash that led to a man’s death.
It was Adams’ turn in court Wednesday, when she was sentenced to five years in prison for the death of her fiancé, who died from his injuries two weeks after the November 2017 crash.
“It is a tragedy that your daughter is also responsible for the death of another person. It is tragic that you chose to get behind the wheel of a car yourself when you knew that you were not sober to drive and you knew what could happen, based upon your daughter’s experience,” Judge Karl Hanson told Kimberly before passing sentence.
Adams, 48, of 210 S. Wright Road, also was sentenced to five years of extended supervision.
Her daughter, Mackenzi S. Adams, was sentenced in the same courtroom on Sept. 8, 2017, to two years in prison plus six months of extended supervision.
The younger Adams’ conviction was for a 2015 crash on Interstate 90/39 in which Jessica Border, 26, of Lake Geneva, died, and three of Border’s family members were injured.
The mother was sentenced for driving the car that crashed and killed her passenger and fiancé, Daniel P. Johnson, after a day of celebrating and drinking, Hanson said.
Kimberly crashed into a parked car on Janesville’s Randolph Road on Nov. 29, 2017, about three months after Mackenzi was sent to prison.
The Chevrolet Equinox flew through the air and ended up on its roof, a witness told police. Johnson, 57, died of his injuries 14 days later.
Hanson told Kimberly she and Johnson should have had a better plan that night, given that they were drinking, and after they realized they were drunk, they should have found a sober driver to take them home.
Hanson said he was not blaming Johnson, adding that once Kimberly put the key in the ignition, it was her decision that led to the tragic outcome.
“Too many good people make bad decisions when it comes to alcohol and driving,” Hanson said.
Others could have saved Johnson’s life that day by offering a ride, Hanson said.
“I highlight these decision points because as a community, there are just too many alcohol-related traffic deaths, injuries and close calls,” Hanson said.
Kimberly made the decision to drive because she believed Johnson was not in a condition to drive, but she failed to realize that she was a threat to Johnson and others, Hanson said.
That was the same situation in a previous incident, when Kimberly drove for Johnson and was found guilty of first-offense intoxicated driving in 2010, Hanson said.
Hanson said he believes Kimberly is remorseful, but he said she must be punished to deter her and others from such behavior, and for the loss of Johnson’s life and the effects on his loved ones.
“Your case should serve warning to anyone ever contemplating driving a car after drinking,” Hanson said.
Defense attorney Scott Schroeder said his client, the mother of four girls and a grandmother, had lived with Johnson for eight years.
“Kim and Dan had a rocky relationship, a little bit. They both drank too much. One witness described them as drinking like fish,” Schroeder said.
Kimberly cries all the time and is truly remorseful, Schroeder said. She is such a good worker at Cost Cutters that her boss, in a letter to the court, said she has a job waiting whenever she gets out of prison, he said.
She has not dealt fully with her grief, Schroeder said. She needs alcohol treatment, and she has been on suicide watch at times in the Rock County Jail, he said.
The court can’t punish her any worse than she is punishing herself, Schroeder added.
Kimberly spoke tearfully, apologizing to Johnson’s family and saying she would give anything to switch places with him.
“I hope someday that you will forgive me,” she said.
Prosecutor Scott Dirks said although Kimberly had no criminal record and had been a positive part of society in raising her family and maintaining steady employment, he is troubled by her other actions.
Dirks said he is not sure Kimberly fully accepts responsibility, noting her statement to the pre-sentence report writer, saying she tried to get Johnson to wear a seat belt, he refused, but she wore hers, and she lived.
Dirks also said Kimberly gave differing statements about how much she drank that night, and the version given to the report writer indicated about four beers over several hours.
But Kimberly’s blood-alcohol level was 0.169 more than an hour after the crash, indicating her level at the time of the crash was likely 0.18, Dirks said, and it would be impossible for someone of her size to register that high with so few drinks.
Hanson agreed with Dirks that Kimberly Adams has not dealt with her alcohol problem.
Mackenzi Adams, meanwhile, is scheduled to be released from prison Sept. 6.