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Victim's mother wants charges to be dropped

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Jan. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)

The mother of a young woman killed in a single-car crash doesn't want the driver charged with homicide by intoxicated driving.

Michelle Hamilton of Delavan said her daughter Courtney Hamilton made a mistake by getting into a car with a man authorities suspect was drunk the night of April 29.

Mark A. Friesema, 21, Delavan, faces two counts of homicide by intoxicated driving in the deaths of Courtney and her unborn baby. Friesema's blood alcohol level shortly after the crash was 0.151 percent, according to the criminal complaint.

"I've talked to the family and (to) Mark. I've met him personally. I have no ill feelings toward him whatsoever," Michelle Hamilton said. "It was a dumb mistake."

Michelle suspects Courtney had been drinking, too, before the crash. The two were going to share an apartment and were coming home from a party near Delavan Lake, Michelle said.

According to police, Friesema was traveling about 55 mph on South Shore Drive when he lost control of his Mercedes and crashed into a tree at the intersection of Bailey Road.

The passenger side of the car took the brunt of the impact. Courtney was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friesema spent several weeks in a hospital for extensive injuries.

"I think he's genuine, and he's sorry. I've seen it in his eyes when he apologized," Michelle Hamilton said.

Courtney had been planning to get an abortion, Michelle said.

District Attorney Phil Koss would not comment when told of Hamilton's feelings. He said he hadn't yet spoken to her personally.

Michelle said she expects to talk to Koss soon.

"I have a three-page letter I'll be presenting to him," she said.

If Koss doesn't drop the charges, Friesema could be facing more than 50 years in prison if convicted.

Friesema currently is in custody on a $50,000 cash bond.

"I think he's already paid the price," Michelle said. "He's going to be paying the price the rest of his life."

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