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David W. Marshall: How Milwaukee Judges Gave Franklin Carjacking Suspect Pass After Pass


The court system knew Marshall was a problem for years, but the court records in his case reveal an inefficient court system that failed to hold him accountable as the wheels of justice ground extremely slowly.

Wisconsin Right Now has learned that the Franklin Walmart carjacking suspect is 31-year-old David W. Marshall, a felon who had two open felony cases (with six charges) at the time of his crime spree but was given repeated passes by multiple judges and court commissioners in Milwaukee County in the months and days leading up to it.

That’s despite the fact that court records document multiple violations by pretrial services against David Wayne Marshall Jr., meaning he demonstrated over and over again that he was thumbing his nose at the system. Yet the system did little to respond. Already a convicted felon, Marshall was given a signature bond in one of his pending cases, and $500 and then $1,000 cash in another. He posted bail for the last time on Aug. 30 in one serious felony case, just four days before the Franklin crime spree, court records show.

The judges in question are former public defenders and Gov. Tony Evers’ appointees in some cases.

The court system knew David Marshall was a problem for years, but the court records in his case reveal an inefficient court system that failed to hold him accountable as the wheels of justice ground extremely slowly; one of his pending cases entered the court system in July 2020, but he didn’t even have his initial court appearance until January 2021.

His felony cases did not get heard in a timely manner, meaning they didn’t go before a jury or reach another conclusion that might have gotten him off the street far before he ended up in a Franklin Walmart and then with a carjacked vehicle turned upside down on a city street.

Although COVID certainly played its role, the cops have continued doing their jobs, and leadership requires court officials to find a way to keep the community safe and continue doing their jobs in a time of skyrocketing crime. Did the Milwaukee County judges and court commissioners do theirs when it came to David W. Marshall? You be the judge.

Authorities have not yet released David Marshall’s name; we got that from multiple sources [Update, the day after this story ran the medical examiner and Marshall’s family confirmed his name). But law enforcement authorities have described a violent sequence of events, including a kidnapping and two carjackings that led to an active shooter scare in a Franklin Walmart. Marshall, who was armed with a firearm, then led police on a dangerous pursuit and crashed his car. That car crash ended with multiple law enforcement officers shooting and killing Marshall, ending his crime spree. The sheriff said in a news conference that Marshall brought a hostage into two Walmarts, but the man alerted cashiers to his plight. Dramatic video shows Marshall running into the street with a gun.

We’ve learned exclusively that Marshall was already a felon. In 2009, Marshall was convicted of three felonies: burglary, vehicle operator/flee/elude officer, and drive or operate a vehicle without consent. Judge Dennis Cimpl gave him two years in state prison that time around. In 2018, he was convicted of misdemeanor operating a vehicle without owner’s consent in Kenosha County. Judge Mary Kay Wagner gave him 90 days in jail concurrent with another sentence. In 2019, he was convicted of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Langlade County. Judge John Rhode gave him 10 days in jail. In 2016, he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in Wittenburg. Judge James Habeck gave him 30 days in jail.

His family told WTMJ-TV that he was bipolar with split personalities, off his meds, and using alcohol.

In 2007, while at Lincoln Hills juvenile detention center, he was convicted of felony battery by prisoners and criminal damage to property. Judge Patrick Fiedler gave him 1 year in prison in a case prosecuted in Dane County. On Facebook, he noted that he spent time at Lincoln Hills.

Despite that fact, judges didn’t seem to treat his cases with much urgency when he landed back in court, starting in 2020, and right up until the days before his crime spree.

Here’s what we learned:

Open Case 1

David w. Marshall

At the time of his death, Marshall had an open case on charges of felony armed robbery with use of force, felony attempt theft – movable property from person/corpse and misdemeanor retail theft, according to court records. He was charged on July 7, 2020. The initial appearance in the case was not held until January 2021, which is an odd length of time, a delay not explained in the court records. He was declared indigent.

Cash bail of $500 was set by Court Commissioner Dewey Martin, a former lawyer in the corporation counsel’s office. He’s the same court commissioner we wrote about previously for giving a signature bond to a woman accused of pointing a gun at a Milwaukee police officer.

Marshall started racking up the violations.

In May 2021, there was a pretrial services violation report filed with the court. By then, the case was in front of Circuit Judge Milton Childs, a former public defender’s office supervisor appointed by Judge Tony Evers.

David w. Marshall
Judge milton childs.

Evers’ touted Childs’ “vast experience as a public defender” in a news release when he appointed Childs to the bench.

In June and July, there were at least four more violation reports filed with the court against Marshall. One was a GPS violation.

In June 3, Childs addressed the “Justice Point violations.” What did he do? “Defendant admonished and reminded of bail conditions,” a notation says in the court records.

By June 30, 2021, there was another Justice Point violation. On July 9, another one. On July 12, yet another. On July 13, another violation.

On July 13, a bench warrant was issued when Marshall didn’t show up for court. But no action was taken on his bail.

“Case scheduled for status conference. Defendant failing to appear. On the State’s motion, the court ordered a bench warrant to issue. No action as to bail,” the court records say. On July 21, he was discharged from Justice Point.

Marshall then was located, and he was back in court for a review of bail on Aug. 9. Despite all of the violations, the court records state that his bail was now $1,000 cash but note, “$500.00 previously posted remains.”

“$500.00 previously posted remains. Turnover to Justice Point for level 5 monitoring. All other previously ordered conditions of bail to remain the same,” the court records say.

The court records are a bit confusing on this point; they say that Marshall posted $500 bail on Aug. 17, 2021, was back in custody on Aug. 27, and then posted another $500 bail on Sept. 2, 2021 – the day before the Franklin crime spree. However, although Sept. 2 is the date the bond was recorded, the notation in the file says, “Actual Date Bond Posted with sheriff 08/30/21.”

Open Case 2