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Drunk driver gets 10 years for fatal crash
DARLINGTON - A Shullsburg man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for causing the death of his girlfriend by driving drunk and crashing her car in August 2011.

Kyle Monahan, 24, was sentenced in Lafayette Circuit Court Thursday, Jan. 23 for one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. He was originally found guilty of the first count, a Class D felony, by a 12-member jury who also found him guilty of a Class D felony count Oct. 8 of homicide by driving with a prohibited blood-alcohol content level and a Class G felony count of homicide by negligent driving. The latter two charges were dismissed under a pre-sentencing agreement.

Twenty-one-year-old Rebecca Lynn Cushman was killed when Monahan lost control of her 2001 Saab station wagon on Dunbarton Road, east of Shullsburg, at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2011, according to online court records. Monahan told an officer on the scene he and Cushman had been drinking at the Wheel Inn in Shullsburg, according to a police report. The car rolled several times, ejecting them both.

At least 40 people, the victim's family members and friends of Monahan, attended the sentencing Thursday. Since Monahan had already been found guilty, the sentencing mostly revolved around how much time he should serve in either Dodge Correctional or Lafayette County Jail where he has been remanded until Thursday. Judge William D. Johnston listened to statements from both the defense and prosecuting attorneys as well as Cushman's mother, Monahan's mother and Monahan himself before imposing the sentence.

Prosecuting attorneys Katherine Findley and Tara Jenswold asked that Monahan be imprisoned for eight to 10 years, with 10 years under supervision. Judge Johnston sentenced him to 10 years initial confinement and 10 additional years under supervision.

Michele Cushman, mother of the deceased, gave an emotional testimony to the court prior to Monahan's sentencing.

"Kyle's punishment will never fit the crime," she said. "I will never see Rebecca walk down the aisle, or get to say, "I love you,' again."

Cushman then passed around a photo album of Rebecca. Monahan remained composed throughout the sentencing, but began to cry when he saw the pictures.

Johnston noticed Monahan wiping his tears on his orange jumpsuit and asked the bailiff to bring him some tissues.

Marlene Monahan, Kyle's mother, also gave a tearful testimony to the character of her son.

"Bad people belong in prison, not good people like Kyle," she said. She then asked that Monahan be allowed to stay out his sentence in Lafayette County Jail, which was denied.

In his closing statements Johnston said, "I don't know how we reach out to the youth today to show how devastating drunk driving can be, there has to be a message sent."

"If you don't get that this is breaking these mothers' hearts," he said. "I don't get it; a beer is not worth it."

In addition to the 20-year imprisonment, Monahan must enter Alcoholics Anonymous, maintain absolute sobriety, conduct a random urinary analysis, have no contact with the Cushmans unless they initiate contact, have his driver's license revoked and gain work or schooling after time served.