Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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

Eric Toney Convicts Fond du Lac Man in Fentanyl Overdose Homicide

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Eric Toney, who is running for Attorney General as a Republican, is on the front lines prosecuting homicide cases.

District Attorney Eric J. Toney announced on Aug. 25, 2022, that Robert Harris was found guilty of First Degree Reckless Homicide for a fentanyl overdose death in the City of Fond du Lac, in which he was accused of injecting a woman with the drug at a rooming house.

The case was investigated by the City of Fond du Lac Police Department and prosecuted by Toney.

Harris faces up to 40 years of prison confinement and/or a fine up $100,000 for the May 31, 2020 death. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by the Court and the sentencing hearing is scheduled November 21, 2022 at 2:30 p.m., Toney said in a press release.

“Fentanyl and opioids are killing people at historic rates and destroying families in communities across Wisconsin,” Toney said.

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute those that deliver poison into our community to hold them accountable and keep our streets safe. I encourage anyone that knows a loved one suffering from opioid addiction to reach out for help within your community or to local law enforcement because it might save a life.”

Robert Harris Fond du Lac Criminal Complaint

You can read the criminal complaint here: Criminal Complaint_1 – Harris, Robert L; 2020CF000734; Harris, Robert L_…

According to the criminal complaint:

On May 31, 2020, at approximately 2:43 a.m. officers with the City of Fond du Lac Police Department  were dispatched to Robert Harris’s rooming house located at 177 W. 2nd Street, Room #8 in the City and  County of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin for a report of a drug overdose.

Victim 1 was described as an adult  female that was not breathing and a female subject was attempting CPR on Victim 1. Harris and a witness were in the room. Asked what substance the victim had ingested, Harris did not respond.

The office noticed a mirror with a brown substance that appeared to have been crushed partially into powder. It field tested positive for fentanyl. A syringe was found in the folds of the victim’s shirt.

Harris stated that he is friends with Victim 1 and has known her for approximately 5 years.

“Robert Harris stated that Victim 1 was in his room for approximately 2 minutes and pulled out the pill bottle and injected a substance from the bottle into what he believed to be Victim 1’s right arm,” the complaint says.

“Harris also stated that Victim 1 was crushing the substance onto the mirror, which was located by Officer Martin. Harris stated that Victim 1 began mumbling shortly after that and then was unconscious.”

He claimed he did not know where she obtained the drugs. Narcan was administered by nasal spray, and it took 10-15 minutes for anyone to call 911 after she went unconscious.

She was pronounced deceased.

A second witness said others were in the room and one witness commented that “they need to get the needles and everything else out of here.”

A witness told police that Robert Harris is a heroin user and a “middle man.”  He denied this.

On June 1, 2020, Robert Harris came to police department and spoke with Detective Vandermolen. Harris described his personal life, circumstances at the rooming house and Victim 1.

Harris stated that he believed Victim 1 obtained heroin from the rooming house and overdosed before coming into his room. Vandermolen challenged Harris stating that Harris previously stated Victim 1 used the heroin in his room.

Harris stated he never got heroin directly from two other people. Vandermolen asked if Harris got heroin from someone else in the rooming house and Harris then responded that he obtained heroin from another man.

The complaint continued to allege:

Vandermolen continued discussing with Harris how Victim 1 obtained the heroin. Harris stated that he  was thinking there was a bad batch of heroin. Robert Harris denied getting heroin for Victim 1 on May 31 but admitted to providing heroin to Victim 1 in the past.

On June 3, 2020, Detective Vandermolen interviewed Witness 4. During this interview Witness 4 admitted  that Victim 1 overdosed at the rooming house two weeks prior to the May 31 overdose death and that Witness 4 was present for both overdoses.

Witness 4 stated that she walked into Robert Harris’s room and saw Harris holding Victim 1 one up and  she told him to lay her down and Victim 1 was given Narcan twice but the Naracan wasn’t effective.

Witness 4 stated Victim 1 was purple when she entered the room. Witness 4 stated she then grabbed her  items, including a Kwik Trip bag and left.

Witness 4 stated that Harris sent her messages related to the overdose but she had deleted them off her phone. Witness 4 stated that she learned Victim 1 transitioned from snorting heroin to injecting it.

Witness 4 also indicated that most everything is laced with fentanyl now. Witness 4 also stated that heroin was her drug of choice.

On August 24 Detective Vandermolen reviewed messages between Witness 4 and Robert Harris. Some  of the messages were partial conversation and on June 1, 2020 Witness 4 sent a message to Harris:

“Someone else might tho. Sh*t I didn’t even know u did. I thought she brought it from somewhere  else. I got woke up to the sh*t I was in a completely different room and got woke up to that sh*t. They are saying she was dead for 2 hours before you guys called 911. So that means (another man) didn’t wake me up in the room down the hall asking for Narcan until 2 hours after she  died!!! WTF man.”

The message implies that Harris sold Victim 1 the drugs leading to Victim 1’s death, the complaint said.

Detective Vandermolen noted other messages associated with Harris indicating drug dealing activity by Robert Harris.

In August of 2020 Detective Vandermolen received the autopsy protocol report and toxicology which states Victim 1’s manner of death as an accident and the Cause of Death is listed as Cocaine, Ethanol, and Fentanyl Toxicity.

On September 1, 2020 Detective Vandermolen spoke with Witness 5 at the Fond du Lac County Jail.  Witness 5 stated her memory was blotchy from the night of Victim 1’s death and that she smokes crack.

Witness 5 stated she met Victim 1 for the first time the night of her death and Victim 1 appeared to be the  happiest person Witness 5 had ever met. Witness 5 stated she watched Victim 1 come into Robert  Harris’s room and heard Victim 1 ask Harris something similar to “you got some sh*t?” and Harris stated “yeah.”

Victim 1 asked Harris what he had and Harris responded that he had “boi” which is a slang term for heroin. Witness 5 stated Robert Harris injected the heroin into Victim 1’s body.

Witness 5 stated that approximately 10 minutes after the injection Victim 1 was sitting on the floor. Witness 5 then heard Victim 1 making unusual gurgling or respiratory noises.

Witness 5 stated that she  approached Victim 1 and tried to put her head up and noted that is blue and Witness 5 didn’t believe  Victim 1 was breathing. Witness 5 stated she wanted to leave but Robert Harris wasn’t allowing her to leave. Witness 5 stated that Witness 6 showed up and approached Victim 1 on the floor and lifted her  head.

Witness 6 said 911 needed to be called but Harris said they couldn’t call the cops. Witness 5 stated  she was able to leave the room and started banging on doors in the rooming house until finally someone opened their door and called 911 for Victim 1.

Victim 5 stated “she was waiting in the rooming house for someone to bring cocaine and observed Harris and a white guy shooting up heroin.” While waiting for the cocaine Victim 1 showed up to the rooming  house. W

itness 5 stated she didn’t know how much heroin Harris cooked up but knows he does a “whole f*cking needle.” Witness 5 stated she normally doesn’t talk with law enforcement but seeing Victim 1 dead under these circumstances traumatized her.

Officer Vokes and Detective Vandermolen confronted Robert Harris about the messages with Witness 4  and if Harris was using drugs that night. Harris stated that he knows Witness 4 and messages with her a  lot but claimed he was not using drugs the night of Victim 1’s death.

Harris stated that Victim 1 injected the heroin herself. Vandermolen confronted Harris about him injecting the heroin into Victim 1’s hand.

Harris stated that he didn’t know what Witness 4 was getting in the conversation alleging Harris provided the drugs to Victim 1 leading to her death. Harris stated he only provided Victim 1 a mirror and water and that Victim 1 used a tin to get the heroin ready.

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Lara Trump: ‘Frightening’ Assassination Attempt a ‘Defining Moment’ for Country

Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, appeared saddened but proud when recalling the "frightening" assassination attempt Saturday against her father-in-law at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa.

“There is no doubt that Saturday was one of the most frightening moments of my father-in-law’s life,” Lara Trump told the audience at Tuesday night's Republican National Convention. “Millimeters separated him from life and certain death. And yet, it was in the midst of it all, as he was jostled off stage by Secret Service, that he knew how defining that moment would be for our country, and he hoisted his fist in the air.”

The crowd erupted into chants of “fight, fight, fight!”

The assassination attempt on Trump, and a general belief among Republicans that a win for their candidate in November will refortify national security, dominated the topics discussed during the later portion of the Republican National Convention’s second night, themed “Make America Safe Again,” in Milwaukee, Wis.

Lara Trump, who is married to the GOP presidential nominee's son, Eric Trump, wrapped up convention night Tuesday as the keynote speaker.

“Last Saturday was a jarring reminder that we as Americans must always remember: there is more that unites us than divides us,” she said. “We all want this country to be great, even if we don't always agree on the best way of doing that. And with every bone in my body, I can tell you that all Donald Trump wants to do, and has ever wanted to do, is make this country great again for all of us.”

She referenced Trump’s presidential record of tax cuts, energy independence, unemployment rates, prison reform, border security, peace agreements in the Middle East, and the creation of the U.S. Space Force as proof that a second Trump administration would benefit American peace and prosperity.

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who was on the shortlist for Trump’s vice-presidential candidate picks, spoke just before Lara Trump Tuesday night, and argued there is nothing divisive about Trump’s America-first agenda, and nothing dangerous about Trump’s supporters, as Democrats maintain.

“What they ask for is not hateful or extreme,” Rubio said of Trump's supporters. “What they want is good jobs and lower prices. They want borders that are secure, and for those who come here to do so legally. They want to be safe from criminals and from terrorists. And they want our leaders to care more about our problems here at home than about the problems of other countries far away.”

Dr. Ben Carson, the 17th U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Trump administration, talked briefly as well, noting how the assassination attempt put the stakes of the election into perspective.

“These events brought unusual clarity to the times we are living in. We have all harbored the nagging feeling that everything we love is slipping away,” said Carson. “This is a man who is a gift to us as a nation.”

The night concluded with speakers calling for unity, for votes, and for grit.

“We must stand up, and we must fight,” Rubio said. “Fight not with violence or destruction, but with our voices and our votes. Fight not against each other, but for the hopes and dreams we share in common and make us one. And fight for an America where we are safe from those who seek to harm us on our streets, and from abroad.”

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Secret Service Says Sloped Roof Was Unsafe for Snipers

The sloped roof where a would-be assassin took aim at former President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in western Pennsylvania wasn’t safe enough for snipers.

This is a reason for not posting someone there, U.S. Secret Service Director Kim Cheatle said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.

“That building, in particular, has a sloped roof at its highest point,” she said. “And so, you know, there’s a safety factor that would be considered there that we wouldn’t want to put somebody up on a sloped roof.”

“And so, you know, the decision was made to secure the building, from inside,” Cheatle added.

The comment comes three days after 20-year-old Thomas Crooks opened fire on a crowd in Butler, Pa., less than 15 minutes after Trump took the stage, striking him in the ear. Trump was wounded but has continued his schedule, arriving in Milwaukee, Wis., on Sunday for the Republican National Convention and appearing in the main arena Monday night.

Since then, authorities – namely the Secret Service – have faced tough questions about the apparent security lapses that allowed the gunman to scale the roof 147 yards from the stage at the Butler Farm Show Grounds.

Eyewitnesses can be seen on video shouting for police to intervene as they watched Crooks belly crawl into position. Law enforcement was also stationed inside the building.

In a separate report from NBC News, a local official said a Butler Township police officer was boosted to the roof of the building, where he grabbed onto a ledge and saw Crooks, who then turned his rifle toward the officer. Unable to grab his weapon or radio, the officer dropped eight feet to the ground, injuring his ankle.

Citizen Vote Protection Act Fentanyl Overdose Link derrick van orden

Arrest Made After Derrick Van Orden Says He Was Assaulted at RNC

(The Center Square) – Western Wisconsin’s congressman says he was assaulted at Milwaukee’s Republican National Convention, but a women’s group disagrees.

Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden took social media Tuesday to say a protester with the group Code Pink assaulted him while he was standing in line at the RNC.

“While standing in line to enter an event at the RNC today, I was assaulted by what appeared to be a member of the pro-Hamas group CODEPINK. A nearby police officer witnessed this assault and I understand they have been arrested,” Van Orden said. “This appears to be an incident of political violence and I will never tolerate this. Regardless of the severity of the violence, political violence is political violence.”

Code Pink almost immediately said Van Orden was the one who bumped into who they called a “visibly Palestinian” woman.

“CODEPINK's Palestine Organizer Nour [Jaghama] has been unjustly arrested at the RNC after a congressman shoved past her and had her arrested on false charges of ‘assault,’” Code Pink said in a tweet of its own.

Milwaukee Police questioned Jaghama, then were later seen taking her away.

The department says the incident is “under investigation.”

Van Orden said the incident is just the latest example of violence from the Left.

“Republicans have been intimidated and targeted for years, including the attempted assassination of President Trump and we will no longer standby and allow lawlessness,” he said. “There is no place for political violence in this country and I have repeatedly called for people who choose this path to be prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.”

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that charges in the case are “under review.”

Van Orden was in line for an event at the Pfister Hotel at the time. It’s not clear if the Code Pink protester was going to the same event or was just standing in line.

Van Orden has been a target for protesters. He is in the middle of a race for his second term in Congress for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District. He has a history of confrontations. It was July of last year when Van Orden was accused of yelling at a group of Capitol Hill interns who were taking pictures and videos inside the Capitol Rotunda.

He defended his actions by saying the Capitol Dome is hallowed-ground, and needs to be treated with respect.

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