Woman convicted of killing motorcyclist while drunk driving

By Brandi Makuski

A Tigerton woman who killed a motorcyclist and injured his passenger while she drove drunk last July was convicted on April 3.

Billie Jo McSherry, 29, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Portage Co. Circuit Court to one charge of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, and OWI causing injury to a passenger under the age of 16. Several other charges were dismissed as part of her plea deal.

McSherry, who is still in custody on $350,000 cash bond, admitted guilt for the death of Antigo resident Robert Korhonen, 48, and severe injuries sustained by his 25-year-old female passenger.

According to the criminal complaint, McSherry was driving a Buick sedan eastbound on Hwy. 49 in the Town of Alban on July 8 when she crossed the center-line on a curve, striking the motorcycle head-on. Korhonen was reportedly thrown 20 feet in the air, according to witnesses, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

His 25-year-old passenger, Stacey Zarda, also from Antigo, was also thrown from motorcycle. According to the complaint, she sustained a shattered pelvis, multiple bone fractures, head trauma and brain damage which left the woman in a comatose state.

The motorcycle was struck with such force it was left in pieces, according to the complaint.

Witnesses told deputies that McSherry appeared intoxicated and repeatedly said, “I didn’t mean to do it,” and “Oh my God, I killed two people.”

McSherry was still in her vehicle with her nine-year-old daughter when deputies arrived. The girl was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and later released.

When questioned, McSherry said she was driving home but couldn’t remember where she was coming from. She admitted to consuming alcohol prior to driving, but refused a breathalyzer test. A blood test later confirmed she had a .30 blood alcohol level—more than three times the legal limit.

When she was examined at St. Michael’s Hospital, McSherry became violent, the complaint said, and tried leaving the examination room. She then kicked and spat at deputies, and began screaming and swearing loudly. After being fitted with an oxygen mask so she couldn’t spit on the deputies, she attempted to bite a hospital staffer.

McSherry’s history includes two prior convictions for OWI and multiple other driving offenses. She returns to court for sentencing on July 6.