Haugen

GOVERNMENT CENTER–One of Burnett County’s high-profile cases went to sentencing Monday morning.

Domminic Haugen, 38, was given a 20-year sentence in a case that dates back to June 2016. He was driving too fast and was under the influence of methamphetamine when he struck and killed Courtney Oustigoff, a 30 year-old mother of three boys.

Friends and family of the victim filled the courtroom Monday morning, some wearing purple shirts that said “Justice for Courtney” on the back in bold yellow letters.

Haugen pleaded guilty to the felony charge of hit and run involving death last July and sentencing for the case was put on hold until he was sentenced in a separate case involving a conspiracy to deliver amphetamine in Sawyer County.

There was an agreement between the defense attorney Stephen Zuber and former Burnett County District Attorney Bill Norine to have the sentence of the hit and run case to run concurrently with the sentence from the Sawyer County case.

Online court records show Haugen was sentenced to 15 years in state prison and 10 years extended supervision after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of manufacture/deliver amphetamine (>50 grams) with the modifier of conspiracy to commit in Sawyer Co.

Judge Melissia Mogen was not bound to that agreement and she sentenced Haugen to 10 years of initial confinement and 10 years of extended supervision to run consecutively with the Sawyer County conviction. He was also given 15 days of jail credit.

When Mogen announced the sentences would be served consecutively and not concurrently the friends and family of Oustigoff cheered in relief.

Her reasoning for consecutively running sentences was that the cases were in two different counties and the crimes were not linked in any way besides the fact that they had the same defendant.

Victim Impact Statements

Victim impact statements were read by Courtney’s father, Neil Oustigoff and family friend Gary Stoner as well as the father of Courtney’s three children, Tyrone Awonohopay.

In those statements’ family members spoke of anger toward Haugen, they called him a monster and said they would like to see him “rot in prison.”

Neil Oustigoff started reading a statement written by Courtney’s grandmother, Thamer Rogers, and after a few paragraphs he became overwhelmed with emotion and had Gary Stoner continue to read the statement. Stoner then read a statement from Courtney’s mother, Nicole Bearheart.

“Children are supposed to bury the parents, it’s not supposed to be the parent bury the child,” Stoner read.

“We couldn’t even have an open casket funeral. We had to say goodbye to her hand,” Stoner continued. “(Haugen) took a very special person from us.”

The statement concluded with a simple and profound message, “Native lives matter.”

Neil Oustigoff said in his victim impact statement that the police could not at first confirm it was Courtney’s body because there “was so much trauma” when it was hit by Haugen.

Tyrone Awonohopay read statements written by his parents from the point of view of Courtney’s children. The children had been living with Tyrone’s parents as he continues to live a sober life.

“I was in jail when I heard about Courtney,” Tyrone told Judge Mogen. “That was really hard for me to deal with that while in jail.”

Haugen’s mother made a victim impact statement as well. It was unexpected that she or anyone for the defense would speak.

“Everybody has lost someone,” Sheila Gouthier said. “My son is not a monster.”

She continued to say that her son is like dead to her because he can’t see his two children and she doesn’t get to talk to him.

“Even though I can see him, he’s a death to me,” Gouthier concluded.

Haugen’s actions

According to the criminal complaint filed in Burnett County Court from February 2017, Oustigoff was struck after 10:53 p.m. the evening of June 14 and before 6:11 a.m. the morning of June 15.

The Burnett County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip that Haugen struck a female with his white Dodge pickup truck and dragged her from the point of impact.

Haugen allegedly returned to his residence to clean the truck. There, he smeared animal blood on the vehicle to hide the damage.

A search of the vehicle by authorities “revealed a piece of cloth stuck between a clamp and a hose near the transmission.” Officers also detected an odor of decomposition by the driver’s side front tire after removing the tire.

Officers collected mud caked in that area. The oil pan was damaged and some rigid fluid lines on the driver’s side of the transmission were bent – damage consistent with a strike to the vehicle from underneath. They found several areas of what appeared to be biological material on the vehicle undercarriage.

The state crime lab reported the samples were consistent with those located at the scene.

In the courtroom Judge Mogen spoke at length about sentencing. The three criteria she was using were; seriousness of offense, character of defendant and need to protect the public.

She explained that the crime was very serious, it resulted in a death.

“This involved two individuals. However, one had a choice. One had choice to drive a vehicle. One had the choice to run away from the scene,” Mogen said speaking of Haugen’s actions following the accident.

It was said many times in court that Haugen did not stop to check on who/what he had hit, and he did not give police any information until after they found and started talking to him.

Meth and the community

During his argument District Attorney Joe Schieffer said that this case is an example of how methamphetamine has a terrible impact on communities

He said that Haugen was using an eight ball of meth a day.

“Who is Domminic Haugen sober versus who is he on meth,” Schieffer asked. “This case shows the consequences of using methamphetamines. Haugen admitted he was driving too fast and was high on methamphetamine that night.”

Since sitting in jail Haugen’s attorney said he has gotten sober and is working on that. Before the hearing ended Mogen said he would be eligible for a substance abuse program while incarcerated.

Haugen has 20 days to appeal the decision.