Richard Knutson, Inc. (RKI) (defendant) was installing a sewer line when a backhoe contacted overhead power lines, electrocuting a crewmember attaching a chain to the backhoe bucket. The prosecution (plaintiff) charged RKI with negligent vehicular homicide. The trial judge concluded that a corporation could be criminally liable under Wisconsin’s statute, reasoning that corporate liability served the statute’s purpose of protecting employees and others from negligent deaths. The jury convicted. RKI appealed, arguing the statute applied only to human beings, not corporations.