Prison sentence handed down in fatal crash

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Other defendant to stand trial in September

Warren Bluhm,

Bailiffs escort Eric Solomon into an Oconto County courtroom Monday to be sentenced for second-degree reckless homicide. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

An Oconto County judge went beyond the prosecutor’s recommendation Monday in sentencing a Wyoming man for his role in the Sept. 11 crash that killed Cory Folts of Oconto Falls.

“The criminal conduct of Eric Solomon has brought the Folts family into this courtroom this morning asking for justice, pleading for justice and a justice that I cannot give them,” Judge Michael T. Judge said before sentencing Solomon, 32, to 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of extended supervision. “There is no way I can heal their hurt that they are experiencing and will experience in some form for the remainder of their lives.”

As part of a plea agreement, Assistant District Attorney Robert Mraz and defense attorney Brent DeBord had recommended 7½ years in prison followed by 7½ years of extended supervision. Judge’s sentence split the difference between the recommendation and the maximum 25-year sentence for second-degree reckless homicide.

Authorities say Solomon struck Kelly Nicole Crispin and grabbed the steering wheel as she drove southbound on U.S. Highway 41-141 in Abrams, forcing her to lose control of the pickup truck and veer across the median to collide with Folts, who was driving north. The 22-year-old man was killed instantly.

Solomon pleaded no contest March 26 to a single count of second-degree reckless homicide. Five charges were dismissed but were read into the record for Judge to consider at sentencing: homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle; homicide by use of a motor vehicle with a prohibited blood-alcohol content; hit-and-run causing death; first-degree reckless endangerment; and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing an officer.

Judge said he received about 15 letters from Folts’ family and friends, as well as letters from Solomon’s mother, grandparents and three other family members and friends.

”We have a case here that involves two young men — one the victim here, Cory Folts, 22 years old, just a bright light in the world, and we have Eric Solomon, a lost soul. His life has been rather dim,” Judge said.

Solomon’s life has been a transient one, wandering from state to state fueling his addiction to heroin and other drugs and committing crimes, the judge said. His record shows five convictions, a half-dozen cases in which charges were eventually dismissed and pending criminal cases in two other states, he said.

About 50 of Folts’ family and friends packed one side of the courtroom, and Judge took testimony from Folts’ sister, Falicia Brabant, and his girlfriend of three years, Maddy Wilbur.

Monday was Brabant’s 26th birthday.

”My brother should be here with me celebrating my birthday,” she told Solomon. “There’s pain that will never go away. So while you’re sitting in jail for perhaps 15 years, we’re going to carry that grief as our own personal prison cell. It’s not going to go away.”

Crispin, 28, from St. Paul, Minnesota, is scheduled to stand trial starting Sept. 4 on charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, homicide by use of a motor vehicle with a prohibited blood-alcohol content and second-degree reckless homicide. A status conference is set for June 11.