Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

One of Wisconsin’s Most Notorious Paroled Killers Hit With Restraining Order, Back in Custody

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The DAY AFTER Wisconsin Right Now asked Tony Evers’ Department of Corrections if it was taking action to revoke Randolph Whiting’s parole, he was taken back into custody.

Randolph “Gargoyle” Whiting is one of the most notorious paroled killers in Wisconsin history; he was convicted of gang raping a Green Bay woman and then cutting her throat so severely he almost beheaded her, before leaving her in a manure pit to die. In fact, when we wrote a 60-plus part series on the brutal killers and rapists who were freed by Gov. Tony Evers’ then appointee to the Wisconsin Parole Commission last fall, Whiting’s case was the first we featured.

We’ve now learned that, on April 24, 2023, a domestic violence-related restraining order was filed against Whiting in Waupaca County Circuit Court. According to court records, a judge granted the restraining order on May 2, 2023, for four years.

Whiting was not taken back into custody until May 4, the day AFTER Wisconsin Right Now asked DOC what was being done about it. Here’s our May 3 email to DOC:

Paroled killer

Jail booking records show he was booked the following day into the Waupaca County Jail.

Paroled killer

DOC finally responded on May 5, writing merely, “DCC staff are investigating.”

The woman who filed the retraining order, whose name we are withholding because she is an alleged domestic violence victim, wrote the court, “There is no doubt if I had not asked him to leave my home, I would be dead by now.” She accused Whiting of “putting something in my food and beverages,” squeezing her throat, threatening her, and being controlling. Whiting denied the allegations in a letter, raising concerns about the woman’s mental health.

Wisconsin DOC records online still list Whiting as living on “active community supervision” in Waupaca, despite the jail booking sheet.

Randolph whiting
A portion of the woman’s restraining order against randolph whiting.

 

Whiting has not been charged with a crime in association with the new allegations.

A letter submitted with the injunction says the woman met Whiting when she rented an apartment to his son. She lived on the first floor of a two-family home and rented out the upper unit.

She wrote that she started seeing Whiting St. around Christmas of 2020.

He was living in the basement of his sister’s home at the time. He asked her to marry him shortly after they started dating. They underwent premarital counseling at a church. He told her that God “creative a suitable helper for him. God created woman. God wants marriage. Wives be submissive to your husbands,” the woman alleged.

She alleged that Randy Jr. moved out of the apartment after alleging that his father “pushed him across the room and he was scared of his anger.”

They married in March 2021. She alleged that Whiting “started to try to control me, especially how much money I spent. It started with haircuts, makeup and cigarettes. He would not help me purchase good tires for my car.” She paid half of his car repairs and he did not do it in return, the restraining order claims.

She spoke with a pastor who “said be patient and let him have control since he was in jail for 35 years without choices or control. He even controlled the decorating,” the woman wrote.

The woman alleged that after an argument at a diner, Whiting “grabbed me by the throat and squeezed. It really scared me. I saw the other personality. He cried and apologized several times.”

When they would argue while driving “he would act like he was going to drive the vehicle into oncoming traffic. He did that more and more often. He would hold my elderly dog a few feet off the ground and drop her on her feet knowing she has a bad hip and knee. He would grab me wherever and squeeze,” she wrote.

She claimed that, after another argument, “he chased me into my bedroom because I refused to argue with him. He was very angry and grabbed me by the arm very hard,” the restraining order alleges.

The woman told the court that Whiting told her “if anyone ever hurt him, his friend…. Would kill them…He also told me if I ever hurt him (a relative) would hurt me.”

She said she has lost a “significant amount of weight in the last few months and believe he has been putting something in my food and beverages. Prior to April of this year, Randy almost always picks up my prescription medications. There is no doubt if I had not asked him to leave my home, I would be dead by now.”

Whiting wrote a letter in his own defense that is also in the court file. In it, he accused the woman of telling a pastor he had tampered with her fone and was controlling “because I was making financial decisions without her and wanting to know how she was spending her money. She was not willing to challenge any of her thinking and blamed all our problems on me. Never once did she mention any sort of abuse.”

Randolph whiting
A portion of randolph whiting’s letter to the court.

He alleged that she had “not once mention to any of them a hint of physical abuse,” referencing the woman’s children, other family members, and Whiting’s sister.

“As a group, her entire family is concerned about her mental health,” he wrote. He alleged that she accused another man of poisoning her too and stated that the woman’s daughter went with Whiting to the Waupaca Police Department to speak with an officer who had given the woman a ride to the courthouse to pick up the TRO paperwork. He alleged that the daughter “explained to him that she was seriously concerned about her mother’s current state of mind and overall mental health.”

He alleged the marriage disintegrated because of poor communication and financial issues. He said she told him she loved him and blew kisses over the phone and then when he called again the same day, she told him she wanted a divorce and filled garbage bags with his clothes.

Since 2019, Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission has released hundreds of convicted criminals, freeing them early on parole mostly into Wisconsin communities, including more than 300 murderers and attempted murderers, and more than 47 child rapists.

Randolph Whiting was one of them. His release was discretionary. He was paroled from a 1980s era murder victim. The victim was named Margaret Anderson.

Many called the death of Margaret Anderson the most “brutal murder in Green Bay history,” according to WBAY-TV.

A book written about her death says she was practically “beheaded” and left to die in a manure pit. A group of biker gang members, including Randolph “Gargoyle” Whiting, gang-raped her in a bar, beat her with a cue stick, and then, prosecutors said, Whiting slashed her throat from ear-to-ear and dumped her in the pit.

“They actually tortured her and beat the ‘h’ out of her,” a retired police officer told WBAY.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that the neck wound was 6 to 8 inches long, appearing to “go halfway through her neck.” Anderson was discovered lying on the road in a pool of blood “with her arms thrashing above her head,” before she gasped and died.

According to WBAY, she was found by a cattle truck driver who initially thought she was a hurt animal crawling on the road.

Evers’ Parole Commission Released Randolph Whiting Early

Randolph whiting
Randolph whiting

Whiting, 63, was paroled on Jan. 21, 2020. He had received a life sentence in the 1984 case, which occurred before truth-in-sentencing laws went into effect.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette newspaper, Whiting claimed to have found religion and wrote articles for a blog called “Between the Bars.” In one of them, written in April 2013, he claimed “I am … no longer the person who committed murder. People can choose to continue to hate me for the person I was 30 years ago, but that person is already dead.”

As author Mike Duplaise writes, “Margaret Anderson was a divorced mother with a teenage son, scraping out a very modest existence in early 1980s Green Bay, Wisconsin, when a night out during the holiday season turned into a nightmare. Before the next day would dawn, Margaret would become the victim of one of the most horrific murders in Green Bay’s history.

She would endure two hours of torture at the hands of four motorcycle club members inside the Back Forty tavern after closing time, before being driven to a manure clean-out area outside a meat packing plant on the edge of town. There, one of the bikers cut her throat and left her for dead in the snow of a brutally cold winter night.”

Tamra Copple Sonsteng of Helena, Montana, was Anderson’s niece. She told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 2020, of Whiting and the other men there that day: “There has never been any remorse. These guys didn’t care. They never once contacted family members to say, ‘I apologize, I was drunk, I was really drugged up.’”

The article says that Sonsteng believes Whiting was released in part because her parents and most siblings are gone. She recommended against his release. She received a letter from Evers’ Parole Commission Chairman John Tate saying that Whiting was being released. Evers, who first appointed Tate in 2019, reappointed him in 2021, after Whiting’s release. Tate had sole authority over the release, but Evers noted that he was “pleased” to reappoint Tate after Tate gave Whiting freedom.

According to a 1984 article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the victim, Margaret Anderson, died a horrific death. Her throat was slashed, and she was badly beaten.

The killer was Randolph “Gargoyle” Whiting, prosecutors said. He was 24 at the time.

A newspaper article from the time described how a passerby found Anderson with a neck wound that had “blood coming out like a fountain of water. Her mouth was open, and she was calling for help.”

The Press Gazette reported that the neck wound was 6 to 8 inches long, appearing to “go halfway through her neck.” Anderson was discovered lying on the road in a pool of blood “with her arms thrashing above her head,” before she gasped and died.

Margaret anderson
Margaret anderson

The article says that Whiting was the person who slashed her throat, and there was later some dispute over that. But he was the only person ever convicted of murder in her case. Three other men also drove her from a bar to a manure pit, where she was dumped.

A 2020 article in the Press Gazette said all four of these men are today walking free. Whiting’s ex-wife was quoted as saying “they should die there,” referring to prison.

The newspaper reported that the men were part of a biker gang, and they gang-raped the victim at a bar, while one beat her with a cue stick. But it was Whiting who slashed her throat “ear-to-ear” and tossed her in the manure pit, prosecutors argued. She staggered around it before dying.

According to WBAY, the retired police officer said, “What they did to her in the bar was enough to kill her.”

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Trump's First Criminal Trial

Five Key Questions Ahead of Trump’s First Criminal Trial

Jury selection is set to begin Monday in the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to charges he paid hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels through a lawyer and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president.

Trump has attempted to delay the start of the New York state trial several times, including three longshot tactics judges rejected this week.

What charges does Trump face in the New York hush money case?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to money paid to Daniels and another woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Bragg has alleged Trump broke New York law when he falsified with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments that involve Daniels ($130,000), McDougal ($150,000), and Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen ($420,000). Prosecutors allege the money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements. Both Cohen and Daniels are expected to testify.

Cohen is expected to be a key witness in the trial. Daniels has said she expects to testify.

Former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Bragg's predecessor, did not bring the case to trial.

What happens on Monday?

Prosecutors, defense attorneys and Donald Trump are expected to be present when the trial before Judge Juan Merchan gets started Monday. The first step will be picking a jury, a process that could take a week or more depending on how things progress. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will select 12 jurors and six alternates from a pool of potentially hundreds of people. Each juror will answer 42 questions designed to determine if they can be impartial in the high-profile trial of a polarizing former president. The jurors will remain anonymous because of security concerns.

Once a jury is seated, it's on to opening statements where prosecutors and defense attorneys will get to address the jury about what they plan to show during the trial.

What is Trump's defense to the charges?

Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong and has accused Bragg of bringing a politically motivated case involving conduct in 2016 during a presidential election year as Trump faces incumbent Joe Biden in a rematch of the 2020 election.

Trump has spoken out against the judge, the district attorney and other involved in the case repeatedly. Trump's comments prompted a gag order from the judge who said Trump can't talk publicly about certain people involved in the case and their families.

"The White House Thugs should not be allowed to have these dangerous and unfair Biden Trials during my campaign for President. All of them, civil and criminal, could have been brought more than three years ago. It is an illegal attack on a Political Opponent. It is Communism at its worst, and Election Interference at its Best. No such thing has ever happened in our Country before," Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social this week. "On Monday I will be forced to sit, GAGGED, before a HIGHLY CONFLICTED & CORRUPT JUDGE, whose hatred for me has no bounds. All of these New York and D.C. 'Judges' and Prosecutors have the same MINDSET. Nobody but this Soros Prosecutor, Alvin Bragg, wanted to take this ridiculous case. All legal scholars say it is a sham. BIDEN'S DOJ IS RUNNING THE CASE. Just think of it, these animals want to put the former President of the United States (who got more votes than any sitting President!), & the PARTY'S REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE, IN JAIL, for doing absolutely nothing wrong. It is a RUSH TO THE FINISH. SO UNFAIR!"

Will Trump take the stand?

That's not clear yet. Trump said last month that he'd be willing to testify at trial if needed.

Could Trump go to jail?

It's too earlier to tell what will happen if Trump is convicted. Under New York state law, falsifying business records in the first degree is a Class E felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Trump's age and lack of any prior criminal convictions could work in his favor at sentencing if he's convicted. His attacks on the judge could have the opposite effect at sentencing. Before sentencing, the judge would look at sentencing guidelines, recommendations from prosecutors and any other pre-sentence reports.

In late March, Trump said that he wasn't worried about a conviction when asked if he thought a conviction could hurt his chances of returning to the White House.

"It could also make me more popular because the people know it's a scam," he said. "It's a Biden trial, there is no trial, there's a Biden trial."

Whatever happens during the trial, Trump will be protected by the U.S. Secret Service.

Even if convicted and sentenced to jail, Trump could continue his campaign to re-take the White House.

"The Constitution does not bar felons from serving as President," said Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Trump could not pardon himself from any state charges, Hasen said.

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Liberal Justice Anne Walsh Bradley Not Running for Reelection

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s next supreme court race could be even more contentious and even more expensive than the last one.

Liberal Justice Anne Walsh Bradley on Thursday surprised the state when she announced she will not run for re-election next year.

"My decision has not come lightly. It is made after careful consideration and reflection. I know I can do the job and do it well. I know I can win re-election, should I run. But it's just time to pass the torch, bring fresh perspectives to the court," Walsh Bradley said in a statement.

She is one of Wisconsin’s longest serving justices, serving her third 10-year term on the court.

“In the 177-year history of the court, only four justices have served longer than my length of service,” she wrote.

Walsh Bradley’s decision means the next election will be open.

Former Republican attorney general, and current Waukesha County judge, Brad Schimel has already jumped into the race. There aren’t any declared Democrats yet.

Schimel on Thursday said Walsh Bradley’s decision isn’t changing anything for him.

“From the beginning of my campaign, I made it clear that I’m not just running against one person, I’m running against this Court’s leftist majority,” Schimel said. “I wish Justice Ann Walsh Bradley well in retirement after decades of public service. I look forward to continuing the fight to bring integrity and respect for the Constitution back to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s last race for the supreme court, in April of 2023, set records for spending. The race between Justice Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Dan Kelly cost more than $56 million. That makes the 2023 Wisconsin race the most expensive judicial race in American history. Many court observers and politicos in Wisconsin say the 2025 race could be just as expensive, or even more expensive.

Protasiewicz’s victory flipped the Wisconsin Supreme Court to a 4-3 liberal majority for the first time in 15 years.

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State Bar of Wisconsin Changing Diversity Definition to End Discrimination Suit

(The Center Square) – The State Bar of Wisconsin isn’t ending its diversity clerkship that faced a federal discrimination lawsuit, instead it is changing the definition of diversity.

The State Bar agreed to tweak the program and make it about the diversity of ideas and experiences, rather than base the clerkship on race and gender.

“The settlement clarifies the definition of ‘diversity’ but makes no changes to the program,” State Bar Executive Director Larry Martin said. “The Diversity Clerkship Program, which has been creating opportunities for Wisconsin-based law students for three decades, will continue to exist and to operate in its current form.”

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sued, saying it’s against the law to hire anyone based on race or gender.

WILL Associate Counsel Skylar Croy said they have had to make it a habit to remind people of that fact.

“Defeating unconstitutional DEI programs has become WILL’s area of expertise, and we are not stopping here,” Croy said in a statement. “While we are pleased with this victory, we know the fight is far from over. In fact, this is only the beginning of a movement, and our lawsuit will provide a roadmap for future victories in all 50 states.”

WILL has also sued over DEI programs at the University of Wisconsin that it says are race-based.

The bar said the only thing that is changing about the Diversity Clerkship is the focus on race in its definition of diversity.

“Under the settlement, the new definition states: Diversity means including people with differing characteristics, beliefs, experiences, interests, and viewpoints. Diversity promotes an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their differences and without regard to stereotypes, and helps to ensure a better understanding and consideration of the needs and viewpoints of others with whom we interact,” the bar added.

WILL sued on behalf of Daniel Suhr, who is a lawyer in the state and is required to be a member of the bar.

After the settlement, Suhr said the new definition is the first step toward restoring fairness to the Diversity Clerkship.

“Premier internship opportunities should be available to students based on merit – not race. I am proud to partner with WILL to set a strong precedent for the next generation of law students,” he said in a statement.

The Diversity Clerkship Program is a 10-week, paid summer job where first-year Marquette University Law School and University of Wisconsin Law School students are matched with law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies.

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Group Allegedly Involved in Pre-pandemic Wuhan Coronavirus Research to Testify Before Congress

Lawmakers plan to interrogate the head of Eco Health Alliance, the group accused of conducting dangerous coronavirus research in Wuhan, China just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will hold a public hearing May 1 where Dr. Peter Daszak is expected to testify. Daszak is the president of Eco Health Alliance, a U.S. nonprofit health research company that used taxpayer-funded grants to conduct coronavirus research.

The lawmakers on the committee also allege that newly obtained documents show Daszak’s previous testimony misled the committee or misrepresented the facts.

“These revelations undermine your credibility as well as every factual assertion you made during your transcribed interview,” the letter said. “The Committees have a right and an obligation to protect the integrity of their investigations, including the accuracy of testimony during a transcribed interview. We invite you to correct the record.”

One of those obtained documents appears to show Daszak saying he plans to work with Wuhan researchers.

A federal grant database shows that Eco Health Alliance received millions of dollars since 2014 from the federal government to study coronaviruses that originate in animals and in some cases can transfer to humans, with an emphasis on China.

A key and highly disputed part of the inquiry is whether Eco Health Alliance’ research included making coronaviruses more dangerous,.

Under former President Donald Trump, the federal National Institutes of Health cut all funding to the group in question over the controversy.

Under the Biden administration, funding has been restored, and NIH has emphatically stated that Eco Health Alliance did not play a role in the start of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, in the absence of a definitive answer, misinformation and disinformation are filling the void, which does more harm than good,” NIH said in a 2021 statement. “NIH wants to set the record straight on NIH-supported research to understand naturally occurring bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, funded through a subaward from NIH grantee EcoHealth Alliance. Analysis of published genomic data and other documents from the grantee demonstrate that the naturally occurring bat coronaviruses studied under the NIH grant are genetically far distant from SARS-CoV-2 and could not possibly have caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Any claims to the contrary are demonstrably false.”

In 2022 and 2023 NIH awarded Eco Health Alliance a total of at least $1,230,594 to research “the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.”

The idea that the COVID-19 virus began in a Wuahn lab was once denounced as a conspiracy theory but has now gotten more widespread credibility.

The FBI announced last year after its investigation that COVID-19 most likely came from a Wuhan lab. That news came just after the Department of Energy also said the Wuhan lab was most likely the origin of COVID-19, though neither agency expressed a high degree of confidence in that theory.

Other groups have suggested it came from the Wuhan wet market, though no definitive answer has been settled on.

Trump's First Criminal Trial

Trump Calls for Sanctions, Censure of Special Counsel Jack Smith

Former President Donald Trump called for special counsel Jack Smith to be sanctioned or censured for "attacking" the judge in Trump's classified documents case.

Trump's comments on Thursday come after Smith and his team of prosecutors made it clear they think Judge Aileen Cannon's latest ruling was based on "an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise." Prosecutors objected to Cannon's order to produce proposed jury instructions under two different legal scenarios. Smith said both legal scenarios were flawed.

In response to the judge's order, prosecutors said they need clarification on Cannon's position so they can appeal if needed. They asked the judge to decide before the trial if the Presidential Records Act "has an impact on the element of unauthorized possession" of classified documents. Failure to do so could make it impossible to prosecute Trump because of the double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.

Trump lashed out Thursday morning.

"Deranged 'Special' Counsel Jack Smith, who has a long record of failure as a prosecutor, including a unanimous decision against him in the U.S. Supreme Court, should be sanctioned or censured for the way he is attacking a highly respected Judge, Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over his FAKE Documents Hoax case in Florida," Trump wrote in a message posted to Truth Social.

Trump also said Smith shouldn't be on the case.

"He shouldn’t even be allowed to participate in this sham case, where I, unlike Crooked Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and all the rest, come under the Presidential Records Act," Trump wrote. "I DID NOTHING WRONG, BUT BIDEN DID, AND THEY LET HIM OFF SCOT-FREE. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN, JACK? A TWO TIERED SYSTEM OF JUSTICE. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!"

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 felony counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn't have security clearance and tried to get around the government's attempts to get them back.

Trump faces a rematch against President Joe Biden in this year's presidential election. Trump also faces three other criminal cases in New York, Georgia and another federal case in Washington D.C. He's used millions of dollars in campaign contributions to pay his mounting legal bills.

Trump also is appealing a $464 million fine in a civil case in New York. He posted a $175 million bond to appeal that decision.

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Biden Cancels Replenishment of Strategic Oil Reserves

The Biden administration will pause its replenishment of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves because oil has become too expensive, the White House said.

Earlier in his term, Biden drained about half of the U.S. oil reserves down to their lowest level in decades in order to try to lower gas prices, which surpassed a record national average of more than $5 per gallon in 2022 before coming back down. Now, Biden’s effort to replenish those reserves have been stalled.

Critics warn that lower oil reserves are a national security issue for the U.S. If the reserves are low when a larger war or crisis occurs, refilling the reserves could be much more difficult and certainly more expensive.

“It’s pure insanity to watch the Biden Administration cut American oil production and then claim they can’t refill our critical reserve because of the price,” Daniel Turner, founder and executive director for Power The Future, said in a statement. “Joe Biden drained the SPR for political reasons, cut our domestic production for his climate agenda and now he’s leaving our critical reserve more vulnerable because he’s incompetent. As a result, Americans are paying more at the pump, more at the grocery store and our SPR is less full during a time of rising turmoil in the Middle East.”

Biden has taken fire from Republicans for hindering U.S. oil production and lowering the reserves. The Biden administration has increased regulatory pushback for oil domestic production while raising ongoing concerns about climate change.

“The Biden administration’s war on U.S. energy is crippling hardworking Americans and has led to our Strategic Petroleum Reserves being at their lowest levels since the 1908s,” U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Reverse course and restore U.S. energy dominance!"