8 years in prison for man prosecutors say ‘changed his story’ twice after fatal hit-and-run

James Husted

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man accused of striking and killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run near 44th and Oklahoma in February of 2017 has been sentenced to prison.

James Husted, 61, of Milwaukee, in April pleaded no contest to one count of hit-and-run, resulting in death.

In court on July 19, he was sentenced to serve eight years in prison and nine years extended supervision.

The fatal hit-and-run crash happened on Feb. 18, 2017. Dennis Gitter, 60, of Milwaukee, was walking when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Husted. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and Husted fled after the crash.

According to the criminal complaint, a witness was driving on Oklahoma when he saw a red car turn right from Forest Home onto Oklahoma. 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┬ápolice 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 did, 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.”

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 OWI, fourth offense.