Moments before he was sentenced for the role he played in her death, Joshua D. Sykora told an emotional courtroom Brooke Ptacek-Baker gave him life again and he asks God every day to trade places with Ptacek-Baker.
"Since he hasn't granted that wish, I do know when I go to heaven I'll see her and we'll spend eternity together," he said.
The 37-year-old Hastings man was sentenced to one year in jail and five years on probation with a four-year stayed prison term. The first nine months of his sentence will be served immediately, with the remaining three months to be served one month at a time over the course of three years.
The one-month terms will be served in June each year, the month of Ptacek-Baker's death.
"Mr. Sykora will get a second chance at life, but Brooke will not get a second chance at hers," said assistant district attorney Alexis Mckinley.
Robyn Ptacek, Ptacek-Baker's mother, spoke at the sentencing to the loss of a child.
"It doesn't just change you," she said, pausing to let a wave of grief pass. "It demolishes you."
Sykora's sentence came more than three months after he was prepared to enter his guilty plea.
The plea deal was put on hold Jan. 4 when St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman said he needed to see more from Sykora before agreeing to the reduced charge. Sykora was originally charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
"I have seen the weight of this case," Waterman said. "Brooke is going to be absent from infinite life events."
Sykora drove a motorcycle that crashed on County Road F in Hudson. Ptacek-Baker's body was found in a nearby ditch and Sykora, whose blood-alcohol level was allegedly 0.07, told officers the crash happened when he tried to avoid a deer in the road.
"If that was my wife or girlfriend lying in the ditch, I would have been lying next to her," said Joe Ptacek, Ptacek-Baker's father.
Waterman said while alcohol may or may not have been the cause of the crash, "Brooke stood a better chance with a sober driver."
While that is true, Waterman continued, Sykora is not a typical convicted felon with no prior convictions and is unlikely to reoffend according to a recidivism test.
"I know you take this seriously," Waterman said to Sykora. "This tells me society doesn't have to worry about you."
Sykora reported to St. Croix County Jail at 1 p.m. March 28.
"In these cases, no one wins," Mckinley said.