A Cornell man was sentenced in Rusk County Circuit Court for his involvement in a rollover accident that resulted in the death of his fiancé.

Anthony J. Renna Jr., 65, was originally sentenced to one felony count of homicide by vehicle due to the use of a controlled substance, however the charge was amended to homicide by negligent operation by the use of a vehicle.

During the sentencing hearing on Monday, March 22, Renna was sentenced to seven years in the Wisconsin prison system consisting of 3.5 years incarceration and 3.5 years supervision with a stayed and imposed punishment and four years probation.

Assistant District Attorney Les Liptak called the situation a “truly unfortunate set of circumstances.” 

According to the criminal complaint, on Sept. 2, 2017, Rusk County deputies were dispatched to a rollover accident with a report of injuries on Wis. 27 in the Township of Grant. Upon arrival to the scene the deputies found a female, later identified as Bernice L. Pinney, 55, lying about 10-15 yards from the vehicle, after being ejected from the vehicle, with people surrounding her giving aid to her. She later succumbed to injuries of a broken neck, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Pinney had been the front seat passenger in a vehicle Renna was driving when he rolled his vehicle multiple times. Renna had fallen asleep or blacked out while driving and had come to after the crash. Renna was found kneeling by Pinney when law enforcement arrived.

Renna’s legal blood draw showed that at the time of the crash, he had had THC in his blood. Also at the time of the crash, Reena was taking several medications he was aware that made him tired.

In his argument, Liptak told the court he had wrestled with how to handle this sad and tragic case.

“What was in his blood stream conspired to create a bad situation,” said Liptak. In the pre-sentence investigation, Liptak said, Renna said Pinney had insisted they go shopping. “Looking back, you should have put up with the gripe to know better [than to drive],” said Liptak in reference to how Renna claimed to react to the medications.

Pinney and Renna had planned on marrying a few months after the date of the crash.

“This is a tragic accident and the lynchpin is that he knew better,” said Liptak, who added that Renna has shown great remorse. Liptak said Renna likely has rehabilitation needs and recommended oversight to make sure he doesn’t go back to alcohol or other drug to combat the emotional impact of the situation. 

In considering the sentence, Liptak argued for seven years in the Wisconsin prison system consisting of 3.5 years incarceration and 3.5 years supervision with a stayed and imposed punishment and four years probation. With the oversight of probation and the follow up of treatment, the sentence, according to Liptak, would not unduly depreciate the seriousness of the charge.

Renna’s defense attorney Kirby Harless told the court he believed that for Renna, “loosing Bernice has been an absolute tragedy for him…his life is forever impacted.”

Renna addressed the court and said, “I am very sorry for what happened…I miss Bernice with all my heart.”