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Wausau woman acquitted of felony OWI charges at trial

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A 42-year-old Wausau woman was acquitted by a jury on Wednesday of felony drunken driving charges.

Sara Jo Carmichael was arrested in May 2019 after police responded to a report of suspicious activity involving three children, ages 11, 12 and 14. The children told an employee at a Wausau convenience store that a woman in her 40s was yelling at them and telling them to “get in the vehicle,” according to the police report.

The employee confronted the woman, who then drove off — but not before the employee took down the pickup’s license plate number.

Police used the plate number to locate Carmichael at her Gowen Street home, where she was described as appearing “obviously intoxicated” and had balance issues standing and walking, according to court records.

Police say Carmichael initially claimed she was with someone named “Steve,” who was driving the pickup, police said, and the three children told police Carmichael was behind the wheel, an allegation corroborated by surveillance video, court records show.

But Carmichael, who faced charges of fifth offense operating while intoxicated, operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration and driving with a revoked license, took the case to a jury on Wednesday.

After deliberating for just under two hours, the jury reached a verdict and found Carmichael not guilty on the alcohol related charges. She was found guilty of driving with a revoked license.

A sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 12.

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