‘Y’all know I’m drunk:’ Prosecutors say man admitted he was driving van involved in fatal hit-and-run

Dennis Thomas

Dennis Thomas

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man is facing homicide charges in connection with a hit-and-run crash that happened Saturday, April 6 near Teutonia and Oriole.

Dennis Thomas, 30, faces one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration and one count of hit-and-run resulting in death.

According to a criminal complaint, the crash involved two vehicles -- a Honda Odyssey minivan and a Scion TC. The driver of the Scion, Latisha Durpree, had to be extricated from the vehicle due to significant damage. She was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 3 a.m. An autopsy revealed she suffered blunt force trauma and died from multiple traumatic injuries.

"There's so many deaths going on -- so many accidents. I'm just overwhelmed by the stuff I'm seeing," said Theresa Funches, Durpree's aunt.

"This is the hardest thing a mother can go through," said Michelle Bonds, Durpree's mother.

A security guard told investigators he saw Thomas walking near Teutonia and Florist, and made contact with him. The complaint said Thomas told the security guard he was the owner and driver of the van, and he said, "Man, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt no one." He said he didn't stop because he has "two previous OWIs." The security guard took him back to the scene of the crash -- where he was turned over to police. The complaint said he told police, "Yeah. That's me. I just hope I didn't kill nobody." When asked to perform field sobriety tests, he said, "Y'all know I'm drunk, so why do I need to do these tests?" He told investigators he had been drinking at Savoy's, and that he didn't know when he left the bar. He said he didn't know what happened leading up to the crash.

Latisha Durpree

Latisha Durpree

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

Thomas was taken to the hospital for a blood draw. An analysis revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .218.

The complaint said the van prosecutors said Thomas was driving came to rest in the porch of a home near Teutonia and Oriole.

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

According to the complaint, Thomas' driver's license was suspended and 1.75 grams of suspected marijuana was recovered from his pocket.

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

Fatal hit-and-run at Teutonia and Oriole

A vigil was held Monday night, April 8 in honor of Latisha Durpree. Her mother asked that the person responsible for her death please come forward.

A Go Fund Me page for Durpree read, in part:

"My daughter Latisha Durpree was carelessly murdered by a reckless driver near Teutonia & Oriole in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  I say murdered because the cowards tried to flee the scene of the car crash that took my baby's life on April 6 around 2am. One of the two men were caught by police and one the other is still on the run."

Loved ones on Monday night gathered near the scene to hold hands and pray.

"It's sad for us to be together for this reason, but this is what happens. When you lose a loved one, you come together as a family, and you also hope the community comes together," said Theresa Funches, Durpree's aunt.

"What am I going to do with this one? Y'all took her mother. Why should she suffer because of someone else's stupidity," said Michelle Bonds, Durpree's mother.

Durpree left behind a 7-year-old daughter. Durpree's funeral will be held Friday, April 12.

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