Teenager charged for fatal Mason Street crash wants to be removed from adult jail

Officials deciding whether she should be tried in adult or juvenile court
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:18 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A teenager at the center of a Brown County reckless homicide case is now the subject of a debate of where she is being housed in jail.

16-year-old Sienna Pecore’s case is currently before a judge as attorneys argue whether she should be tried in adult court or juvenile court.

Ahead of that decision - which will not come for another month - her attorney says she is currently being held with the adult jail population, which her attorney argues is a violation of federal law.

Sienna Pecore was 15 years old when investigators say she lost control of her car and hit two vehicles. She was driving over 100 miles per hour on West Mason Street at the Oneida Street intersection.

A passenger, 17-year-old Cruz Beltran, died in the crash last October.

Shortly after the state charged Pecore with multiple felonies that includes first-degree reckless homicide, she was placed in a juvenile facility in Marathon County.

This year Pecore’s defense attorney Catherine White says she was transferred to the Brown County Jail and held in a ‘Youthful Offender POD’.

But within three weeks White says she found out Pecore had been moved to a unit with adults. White argues that it’s a violation of federal law citing two laws. One of those laws include PREA or ‘The Prison Rape Elimination Act’.

“The law is very clear, PREA, specifically prohibits detention of anyone under the age of 18 with adult inmates,” said Sienna Pecore’s Defense Attorney Catherine White.

White says it’s about protecting Pecore from bodily harm and making sure her educational, behavioral, and rehabilitative needs are met.

“I think it requires her housing be changed immediately and send back to Marathon,” commented White.

Brown County District Attorney David Lasee says there’s a distinction within the law that makes Pecore’s current housing assignment appropriate.

“There is a distinction when you have a juvenile or person under 17 who has been charged with original jurisdiction in adult court can be housed in the adult jail,” said Brown County District Attorney David Lasee.

Lasee says this is not the first time the local jail has housed a Juvenile. He’s confident requirements are being met to ensure Pecore’s safety.

“With respect to educational needs and mental health needs, those are being met,” said Lasee.

Brown County Judge John Zakowski says he sees the significance of the issue and will need more time to decide.

“If it isn’t straight forward then it is a question of discretion. I don’t think the court has the ability to tell the sheriff how to house inmates unless they’re violating the law. I guess that is really what I have to determine is a violation of a federal law.” said Judge John Zakowski from the Brown County Circuit Court.

The judge is expected to have a written decision by next week. A decision on the reverse waiver hearing is expected in November.

Teenager charged for Mason Street crash wants to be removed from adult jail