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Assembly committee moves to remove intoxication as legal defense for murder

Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio

Members of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee say they'll move quickly to repeal a state statute that allows accused murderers to claim they were too intoxicated to know right from wrong when they killed someone.

Testifying in favor of the bill to repeal the voluntary intoxication defense this week were the friends and relatives of Alisha Bromfield, and the relatives of the man who confessed to killing and then raping her in August of 2012. She was pregnant at the time.

Brian Cooper used the intoxication defense in his case. That led to a hung jury on the two murder charges for killing her and her unborn child. Cooper's sister, Kelly Stryker, says the law needs to be changed so her brother can be responsible.

“Alcohol is not an excuse. When we blame alcohol for this type of behavior we are taking responsibility off their shoulders,” Stryker said. “He still has not taken responsibility for his actions. The way the law is currently written leads to these injustices. It gives people the excuse for their monstrous behavior.”

Cooper will face a retrial in May. Even if the statute is repealed, it won't be retroactive, so Cooper can use the same defense again. Still, both families affected by the murder he committed told lawmakers they want to make sure no one else can use the defense in the future.