Scott sentenced to 48 hours in jail for obstructing officers

Scott sentenced to 48 hours in jail for obstructing officers

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All Jerry and Patti Homan said they want from Austin Scott are answers and closure in their son's death.

Friday, he told them he can't help them.

Scott, 19, of Palatine, Ill., is the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sophomore accused of lying about events leading up to the disappearance and drowning death of fellow UW-L basketball teammate Lucas Homan last fall.

He will spend 48 hours in the La Crosse County Jail after pleading no contest Friday to two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers.

La Crosse County Circuit Judge Elliott Levine also gave Scott a year on probation after he leaves jail at 6 p.m. Sunday.

"Whether or not he had anything to do with Luke's death, we don't know, and we might not ever know," La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said in court Friday. "But he still obstructed the investigation into that death and threw a cloud over it that will remain probably forever."

Homan's body was recovered from the Mississippi River off the Riverside Park levee Oct. 2, 2006. An autopsy showed cold water drowning, with acute alcohol intoxication as a major contributing factor.

A group of Homan's friends said they last saw the 21-year-old from Brookfield, Wis., with Scott at The Vibe, 332 Jay St., about 9 or 10 p.m. Sept. 29, 2006.

But Scott told UW-L police he saw an intoxicated Homan leave The Vibe alone about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 30, according to the criminal complaint.

Scott was cited at 9:58 p.m. Sept. 29 for underage drinking near the Radisson hotel, the complaint reported. A blood test at Franciscan Skemp Medical Center registered a 0.33 percent, Gruenke said.

"The number of lies he was telling, all of them seem to be going the same direction - he doesn't want police to know he was in Riverside Park," Gruenke said. "… We don't know why he lied and that's the mystery here."

Scott told authorities he doesn't know how he got to the Radisson or the hospital, but remembered heading from the hospital back to UW-L's Sanford Hall dorm. He later said he recalled "sitting at The Vibe, I … would never leave him in the water" but could not elaborate, according to the complaint.

Scott said it was possible he and Homan were in Riverside Park together that night and Homan fell in the river - his best guess was Homan tripped - but he could not remember, according to the complaint.

He said he gave investigators a false story of three men arguing with Homan at the Vibe on Sept. 29 because he didn't know what happened, according to the complaint. That led police on a "wild goose chase" for men who didn't exist, Gruenke said.

Defense attorney Mark McCabe said Scott admits lying about his birthdate, address and walking home from the bar, but objected to all other facts in the complaint. He stressed Scott has no memory of that night.

"This community is frustrated by eight separate river deaths that have occurred, there's no question about that," McCabe said. "My client is not to blame for all of those prior deaths. My client is not to blame for Luke Homan's death."

Scott apologized to "everyone" Friday and said it was wrong to lie about that night.

"My heart goes to out to Luke's parents," he said. "I wish I knew what happened. The Homans would be the first people I would tell."

Patti Homan said she "truly, truly believes Austin knows what happened that night," but asked Levine to spare him from jail.

"I want for Austin to have a happy, productive life," she said. "The only way he's going to be able to do that is if he actually tells what he knows -even if it's the worst, even if he pushed Luke into the water, even if it's that, I'd wrap my arms around him right now and tell him we'll get through this."

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