Man accused of drinking, smoking pot, speeding prior to crash that killed child pleads not guilty

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- A man accused of drinking and smoking marijuana prior to a crash that happened near Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer on February 25th has pleaded not guilty. Two children were ejected from the vehicle 35-year-old Marcus Lee was driving, and one of them died.

Marcus Lee

Lee is charged with one count of knowingly operating while suspended, causing death.

Witnesses claim the vehicle Lee was driving reached speeds of 80 to 90 miles-per-hour.

Surveillance video captured by a camera at Farkas Automotive shows Lee allegedly speeding northbound on Sherman through the intersection with Bradley Road.

Surveillance video shows vehicle driven by Marcus Lee prior to fatal crash at Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer

The video shows Lee losing control after striking the curb on the west side of the street, before passing out of frame.

Lee made his initial appearance in court on March 1st, and it was determined he would undergo a competency examination. Lee was wearing a protective vest, and wiped several tears from his eyes during his court appearance.

On March 23rd, Lee was found competent to proceed in this case.

Bail was then set at $10,000.

Surveillance video shows vehicle driven by Marcus Lee prior to fatal crash at Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer

Three-year-old R'moni Little-Smith died at the hospital as a result of injuries suffered in the crash.

Upon arrival at the scene, Brown Deer police officers found Lee's vehicle tipped onto the driver's side. Three-year-old R'moni Little-Smith, Lee and a four-year-old boy were found in a grassy area near the vehicle. Little-Smith was lying on her back, unresponsive. The four-year-old boy was being tended to by a woman.

Marcus Lee

Little-Smith was later pronounced dead at the hospital, as a result of blunt force head trauma. According to the complaint, the four-year-old boy suffered a concussion and abrasions on his head.

Police made contact with Lee, who told officers he was driving the vehicle prior to the crash, and the two children were in the backseat -- not wearing seat belts, according to the complaint.

Lee told police the vehicle struck the curb and flipped over. He said he saw the two children thrown from the vehicle.

The complaint indicates Lee made "various statements" about using a cell phone while driving.

The chaplain for the Brown Deer Police Department happened to witness the crash. According to the complaint, he stated that Lee's vehicle was traveling at approximately 80 miles-per-hour and "driving erratically" prior to the crash.

Another witness estimated Lee's vehicle was traveling at 80-90 miles-per-hour prior to the crash.

Police were able to obtain surveillance video from an automotive shop nearby -- which showed Lee's vehicle traveling on Sherman Boulevard at a high rate of speed. The video showed Lee's vehicle lose control as it passed through the intersection at Bradley Road. The vehicle then struck the curb on the west side of Sherman.

The complaint indicates while Lee was being transported to the hospital, officials noted a strong odor of alcohol coming from Lee's breath. According to the complaint, Lee told officials he had smoked marijuana two to three hours prior to the crash.

Lee told investigators his driver's license was suspended, the complaint says.

Fatal crash at Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer

A blood sample was taken from Lee and sent to the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory for analysis, and he was arrested.

According to the complaint, when Lee was taken into custody, officials found a receipt on his person, indicating the vehicle Lee was driving had been purchased on the date of the crash -- February 25th, by Lee's girlfriend and the mother of the three-year-old and four-year-old children who were in the vehicle at the time of the crash. The receipt had a message on it, reading: "Warning! This vehicle cannot be legally operated on Wisconsin highways and may not be safe."

Crash at Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer

One day after the crash, Lee was interviewed by investigators. According to the complaint, Lee said he had consumed "half a bottle of liquor" and "two beers" on February 25th, and he had also smoked marijuana at various points during the day.

Lee indicated his girlfriend had purchased the vehicle on Thursday morning. Lee said he suspected a tie rod needed to be fixed because his girlfriend had mentioned that at high speeds, the steering wheel started to shake.

Brown Deer police say in general terms, there's nothing illegal about the sale of a vehicle that is in need of repairs.

A spokesman for the Brown Deer Police Department said there is generally an expectation on the part of the buyer to tow the vehicle and get it fixed before driving it.

The complaint says Lee told officials he picked up the two children from daycare around 8:30 p.m., and said the children were not wearing seat belts, nor where they secured in child safety seats.

Marcus Lee

Lee said he was on the way to pick up his girlfriend, the children's mother, when the crash happened.

Lee estimated he was driving at approximately 45 miles-per-hour.

Lee said the car started to slide, and struck a curb on Sherman. Lee said after the car rolled, he crawled out through the sunroof.

According to the complaint, Lee said he "knew (Little-Smith) was dead" after the crash, and he said he "should have been more of an adult and put their seat belts on."

Fatal crash at Sherman and Teutonia in Brown Deer

The complaint makes reference to the fact that Lee's vehicle operating privileges were suspended on February 5th, 2014 for failing to pay a fine.

Marcus Lee will next be in court on April 20th for a scheduling conference.

This is the fourth fatal crash to occur in February in Brown Deer.

On February 5th, a crash involving three vehicles and a wrong-way driver happened near Green Bay Road and Deerwood Drive. The wrong-way driver died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash on February 11th. He was identified as 59-year-old Charles Washington of Milwaukee.

Brown Deer head-on collision

20-year-old Kierra Monei Jackson and 22-year-old Fredericka Owens-Wright were killed when Monei Jackson seemingly lost control and left the roadway near Dean and Teutonia on February 11th. The vehicle rolled at least once, and the medical examiner's report indicates it struck an electrical box and phone box before coming to a stop in a tree line just south of the intersection of Dean and Teutonia. A third woman was taken to the hospital for treatment following this crash. She was listed in critical condition.

Two killed in crash near Dean and Teutonia in Brown Deer

25-year-old Lauren Unertl of Hustisford was killed in a crash near 60th and Brown Deer Road on February 13th. Her passenger was hurt. 25-year-old Brandyn Corbins has been charged in the case -- facing homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, among other charges. Corbins is accused of drinking at a bar and taking Viodin pills he did not have a prescription for prior to the crash.

Fatal crash near 60th and Brown Deer Road

Brown Deer police are taking part in "high visibility traffic enforcements" as a result of these crashes.