Man accused in fatal hit-and-run crash pleads not guilty to charges

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James Husted

James Husted

MILWAUKEE — 60-year-old James Husted of Milwaukee pleaded not guilty on Friday, March 3rd to charges in connection with a fatal hit-and-run crash that happened at 44th and Oklahoma on Milwaukee’s southwest side last month.

Husted faces the following charges:

  • Hit-and-run resulting in death
  • Operate motor vehicle while revoked – cause death of another

The victim has been identified as 60-year-old Dennis Gitter of Milwaukee. Gitter was apparently walking southbound on Saturday, February 18th when he was struck by a vehicle headed eastbound on W. Forest Home Avenue. The striking vehicle fled the scene after the crash, police said. Gitter was pronounced dead at the scene despite the life-saving efforts of first responders.

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

According to the criminal complaint, a witness to the incident was driving on Oklahoma Ave. when he saw a red car turn right from W. Forest Home Ave. onto Oklahoma Ave. The witness “heard a loud noise, saw a person land on top the hood of the red car and then fall to the pavement.” The witness told police the red car paused for a moment, “then squealed its tires and drove off.” The witness also noted there was a woman in the passenger seat of the car — and he got part of the car’s license plate number.

While police were on the scene investigating this incident, citizens reached out to them about a suspicious red car parked near 83rd and Crawford in Milwaukee. The car apparently matched the description given by witnesses at the 44th and Oklahoma scene. The complaint indicates the vehicle “had damage to the front end and windshield consistent with the crash. Both front tires were flat and shredded, consistent with being driven upon after they had gone flat. A paint chip found at the scene of the crash appeared to match a spot of missing paint from the car.” The car was listed to Husted, who lived a short distance from where it was parked.

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

When police went to talk with Husted, the complaint indicates police noticed “the defendant walked slowly and smelled of an alcoholic beverage.” When Husted was asked what he had been doing that day, he said “he went to a female friend’s house, and a friend of that friend asked him to lend her the car. He lent the woman the car, and he went home and fell asleep. Then the woman called him and told him that she had crashed his car and that it was now parked on Crawford Ave.”

The complaint says when Husted was asked how he got home without his car, “he changed the story. Now he said that when he was driving home from his friend’s house, an unknown woman flagged him down. He pulled over to help her out. She got in his car, and he moved over to the passenger seat and let the unknown woman drive. He said from that point everything was a blur, and he can’t remember what happened. He did not remember getting into an accident.”

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

Fatal hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma

After Husted was arrested, a detective questioned him one more time — and the story changed once again. This time, Husted “said that he went in his car to a former girlfriend’s house to give her money. On the way back home, he stopped and picked up a prostitute. They stopped at a liquor store and then went to his house and drank. When she wanted more to drink, he let her take his car to go get more. The next thing he knew, the police were at his door waking him.” When pressed for more information Husted “claimed lack of memory and would neither admit or deny hitting someone with his car.”

The complaint said Husted’s driving privilege was revoked in 2001 following a conviction for fourth offense operating while intoxicated.

Husted is due back in court on Tuesday, March 21st. If convicted on the more serious hit-and-run charge, Husted faces up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.