Attorney in court for OWI same day high-profile Wis. murder trial begins

A Polk County District Attorney was arrested for alleged drunk driving hours after a motions hearing concluded in a high-profile murder case he’s prosecuting involving a deadly stabbing along the St. Croix River this spring. 

Daniel P. Steffen is facing OWI and speeding charges after he was arrested Monday night in Fond du Lac County. Sheriff’s officials said Steffen was pulled over at 8 p.m. for traveling 70 miles per hour in a 55 zone. He told the deputy he was on his way to attend a district attorney’s conference in Elkhart Lake and had stopped for drinks in Mauston about two hours before being stopped, but at the jail he told an officer he thought they stopped about 30 minutes before being pulled over. He was traveling with two victim witness coordinators from the county.

His preliminary breath test measured 0.11 percent, and he is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 7, the same day the murder trial begins for Levi Acre-Kendall, the Cambridge, Minn. 20-year-old charged with murder in the April 14 stabbing death of another fisherman, Peter Kelly, during an argument on the St. Croix River. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

At the Monday motions hearing, the question remained whether actual audio of the 911 call made immediately after the stabbing would be used at the trial. Acre-Kendall’s defense attorney worried the recording could be prejudicial. The jury will be given a written transcript.

Steffen has no other OWI offenses on his record. He has been a Polk County District Attorney since 2007.