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Church bishop enters not-guilty plea in fatal pedestrian crash

SUN PRAIRIE (WSAU-Wheeler News)  A former E-L-C-A Lutheran bishop has pleaded innocent to killing a distance runner in Sun Prairie. The pleas were entered for 59-year-old Reverend Bruce Burnside, right after he was ordered to stand trial on four Dane County four charges that include drunken homicide and hit-and-run causing death.

Burnside also asked for a new judge to hear his future proceedings.

Prosecutors said Burnside was rushing to a Sun Prairie church on April seventh when he left a freeway exit, knocked down a lamp-post, struck and killed 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt, struck a car down the road, and eventually stopped in a gas station where he was arrested. Authorities said his blood alcohol level was over one-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Mengelt was training for a 20-mile Syttende Mai running race in Stoughton when she was killed. Burnside was in the final three months of a term as the bishop for 110,000E-L-C-A Lutherans in south central Wisconsin. He stepped aside from the post, and went to a treatment facility.