Laura Robar, whose son is charged with first-degree murder for the beating death of his half-brother last summer, was sentenced to a year in jail Monday for using the dead man's public assistance card within weeks of his death to buy groceries.
Robar, 49, of Fort Atkinson, pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of identity theft for using a Quest card that belonged to Matthew Graville, 27, who died on July 1 after his half-brother, Jeffrey Vogelsberg, 28, allegedly beat him the night before.
Robar was not related to Graville but helped him with financial affairs. Graville had Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
After Graville's death he was put into a freezer, then buried five days later on public land near Lone Rock. Robert McCumber, 29, who had found Graville dead at the Mazomanie home where Graville and Vogelsberg were living and had helped bury him, led police to Graville's body on Nov. 5.
Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese said the seriousness of Robar's crime went far beyond the use of Graville's Quest card.
"I believe that you knew that Matthew was gone and he was not coming back," Genovese said. "That is, for me, an aggravating factor. It does play into your character."
Genovese also took Robar to task for not reporting Graville's death, even though she knew about it.
Graville's mother, Vicki Graville, told Genovese through sobs that her son "was taken from me by people who claim to care and love."
"I feel that Laura needs to pay and do the things that she has coming," Graville said, "because she was aware of what she done, she was fully aware, and yet she did nothing."
Robar's lawyer, Jason Gonzalez, who asked that she receive three months in jail, said Robar did not know for certain that Graville was dead and only was aware of rumor and conjecture that he was. Anything that Vogelsberg said was unreliable because he often lied, Gonzalez said.
But Assistant District Attorney Robert Kaiser said the night Graville was beaten Robar checked on him and found him to be unresponsive. And, Kaiser said, she was in the background when Vogelsberg took a phone call from McCumber when he reported finding Graville dead.
McCumber is due back in court on Feb. 14, while Vogelsberg has a court date in May. Kaiser said the plea agreement with Robar doesn't require her cooperation in the case, but she could still be issued a subpoena to testify.