Local Family Wins Fight Against Drunk-Defense Law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs bill striking down statute that allows defendants to claim "voluntary intoxication."

Weeks before her accused killer is scheduled to be retried, the family of Alisha Bromfield celebrated a bittersweet victory after working to strike down Wisconsin's so-called drunk-defense law.

Bromfield, a Plainfield resident and Joliet Catholic Academy graduate, was pregnant with a daughter she had already named Ava Lucille when she was murdered in a hotel room at a Wisconsin resort in August 2012.

The 21-year-old had traveled to Door County with friend Brian Cooper, now 37. In a recorded interview with police, Cooper admitted to killing Bromfield, but he pleaded innocent to the crime, claiming he was too drunk to form intent.

For months, Bromfield's mother, Plainfield resident Sherry Anicich, and family have been fighting against a Wisconsin statute that allowed defendants to claim voluntary intoxication.

Anicich rallied thousands to her cause through a series of online petitions and her poignant testimony before the Wisconsin legislature. 

On Wednesday, that fight paid off as Gov. Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 780. The new law eliminates drunkenness as a defense for accused criminals.

"Brian Cooper, the criminal that viciously took the life of my daughter and granddaughter was protected by the Wisconsin statute 939.42, which allows voluntary intoxication to be used as a defense for murder," Anicich wrote online. "We could not bring our precious Alisha and Ava back, so we put our time, energy and love for them into starting an initiative to change the law on voluntary intoxication."

On Thursday, Anicich thanked supporters.

"Thank you so much everyone for sharing Alisha's and Ava petition and thank you to my family and friends who traveled to Wisconsin to get signatures," she wrote on Facebook. "Thank you to Rep Nass and Senator Kedzie for sponsoring the bill and being Alisha and Ava's voice. This bill will help so many other families. ... Never underestimate what love and passion can do to change the world. You are a part of history."

New trial begins in May

Last June, a Wisconsin jury found Cooper guilty on a third-degree sex assault charge, but couldn't reach a decision on two first-degree intentional homicide charges. 

He's accused of strangling Bromfield in a fit of rage after she refused to rekindle a romantic relationship with him. Cooper, who was not the father of Bromfield's child, then sexually assaulted her.

A former Plainfield resident, Cooper is set to be retried next month, with jury selection starting May 2. This week, a Door County judge allowed Cooper to switch attorneys less than a month before the new trial begins. 


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