The Shocking and Disturbing Testimony Elicited on March 26, 2012

An evidentiary hearing took place on March 26, 2012 wherein Madison Detective John Messer, Madison Detective Thomas Helgren, and Madison Police Officer Rene Gonzalez all testified.  Darell Fowler was subpoenaed to testify but, as shown below, Fowler and his attorney, Dennis Burke, defied the subpoena and walked away from the courthouse without the slightest consequence.  The Dane County DA’s Office appears to be in full agreement with Fowler and his attorney’s actions, and the Dane County court appears to be paralyzed from doing anything about it.

Some may be skeptical that something so outrageous could take place in the Dane County Courthouse.  Their skepticism may be challenged by what is outlined below.

Brief Recap of Det. Messer’s Testimony of March 26, 2012

John Messer testified that he was the case detective for the February 4, 2011 home invasion at 1818 Fordem Avenue.  Messer testified that he had surveillance photos related to the February 4th home invasion within a week or so of the crime.  Messer testified that in February of 2011, the victim ID’ed both Anthony Williams and Zachary Mays as perpetrators.  Messer testified that despite having both the IDs and the photo evidence, he never acted upon these as of March 26, 2012.

Det. Messer justified his non-action as being due to overwork from a large caseload that he claimed was further aggravated by the demonstrations at the State Capitol.  However, Det. Messer was then forced to concede that he indeed had had the opportunity to interrogate both Mays and Williams, because he did interrogate both Williams and Mays on another matter.  Messer testified that during these interrogations he never raised the February 4, 2011 home invasion as a topic despite nothing precluding him from doing so.

Messer testified that he was also one of the case detectives in the Michael Keith homicide.  However, Messer testified that prior to March 26, 2012 he was not aware that Williams had signed off on a hand-written document dated December 5, 2011 and filed in the Keith homicide matter. (See Attachment #70)  Messer testified that therefore, as of March 26, 2012, he was unaware that Williams was willing to talk on all crimes of which he was aware, including the February 4th home invasion, in which Williams asserted Ashton Davis had been the organizer and lead participant.

Det. Messer testified that group photos of Lic Squad/ MAD members, which were provided to the DA’s Office on February 1, 2012, were provided to him personally soon after.  Messer ID’ed Williams in the photos.  However, Messer testified that he was not aware that Ashton Davis was in the photos (even though the DA’s Office had been so informed).  Messer testified that he had never compared any police photos of Ashton Davis to the lead perpetrator captured in the surveillance photos of the February 4, 2012 home invasion of 1818 Fordem Avenue.  This was despite Messer conceding that the victim told him that the lead perpetrator looked like Demarious Gray but was not Demarious Gray. (Davis is a look-a-like of Demarious Gray)  And, Messer had been told of Davis in March of 2011.  Messer seemed unaware and uninterested that the group photo came from an apartment located at 1818 Fordem Avenue.

Messer also testified that he was unaware that Madison police, via Det. Tom Helgren, had investigated Davis’ whereabouts for February of 2011, where Det. Helgren found that Ashton Davis had left Madison within hours of the February 4th home invasion.  And despite Det. Messer and Det. Helgren acknowledging that they spoke with each other in March of 2011, each would testify that they never discussed what Helgren found in regards to Davis’ whereabouts.

Brief Recap of Det. Tom Helgren’s Testimony

Det. Tom Helgren testified that in early March 2011, another Madison detective told Helgren that the sister of a Tyshaun Robinson told this detective that Tyshaun was bragging about being involved in the crime for which Gray would be charged.

Helgren testified that he took no action on the information he received.  He decided not even to speak with the sister.  Helgren testified that he took no action despite:  1) knowing that Tyshaun Robinson’s girlfriend lived right across the street from where the armed robbery in question had taken place; 2) Tyshaun Robinson having a lengthy criminal history; and 3) Det. Helgren was then investigating Tyshaun Robinson on other serious violent crimes.

Det. Helgren also testified that he did not believe he had any obligation to preserve the information that the other detective provided, to have the information passed on, or have it provided to Gray’s defense.  Det. Helgren also did not believe he had any obligation to correct the prosecutor of Gray, ADA Stephan, when claiming that all exculpatory evidence had been provided, even though the aforementioned evidence was being withheld.

Brief Background to Darell Fowler and Office Gonzalez

The Dane County DA’s Office initially claimed that there was no evidence connecting Darell Fowler to other armed robberies and to a criminal clique known as the Lic Squad.  For months ADA Corey Stephan repeatedly made these representations.

However, ADA Corey Stephan’s representations were proven to be false.  He had withheld: 1) Fowler and Ashton Davis greeting each other in text messages with their Lic Squad status; and 2) photos obtained from Fowler’s phone showed him twice holding rifles, with another of an automatic submachine gun, and with other photos of Fowler flashing gang signs and wads of cash taken from one of Fowler’s crimes.

After Stephan’s representations were proven untrue, the court ordered that the DA’s Office thoroughly review the police department’s records for all police reports relating to Fowler.  ADA Corey Stephan turned over purportedly all such police reports.  The date of the first police report was January 9, 2009.  None of the police reports related to serious criminal matters.

However, the dispute continued, and over ADA Stephan’s vehement objection, he was forced to provide to the court purported police reports pertaining to Fowler for an in-camera inspection.

For reasons that are too involved to go into here, Stephan provided a report in a very disingenuous fashion.  The bottom line was, the court then turned over to the defense a police report dated 11/19/2008 regarding Darell Fowler and authored by Madison Police Office Rene Gonzalez.  (See Attachment #61)

Officer Gonzalez asserted in the report, “I have dealt with Fowler in the past and know that he has a weapons offense and was recently involved in an armed robbery over drugs.”

The court agreed that this report was exculpatory and should have been handed over months prior.  The court then ordered that Officer Rene Gonzalez was to give a response to what was being referenced, and that the DA’s Office should turn over all police reports related to the mentioned armed robbery.

However, ADA Stephan evaded directly complying with the court’s order, and in a letter dated October 27, 2011, Stephan took it upon himself to respond for Gonzalez, asserting as follows:

“I have been advised by Officer Rene Gonzalez of the following regarding his report dated November 19, 2008 in MAPD case 2008-334836.  Officer Gonzalez remembers who Darell Fowler is, but does not remember his source of information regarding the weapons and robbery.  Officer Gonzalez’s belief is that the information was intelligence only (i.e., not verifiable) and therefore there is no further documentation of the information.  At the time Officer Gonzalez was a neighborhood officer in the Langdon Street area and he regularly got unsubstantiated intelligence information.” (See Attachment #71)

It was immediately pointed out to the court that it was Gonzalez who was supposed to be providing the response, and that this should be enforced.  Unfortunately, the court took no action and it was not until March 26, 2012, that Officer Gonzalez gave a response (under oath).

Brief Recap of Officer Gonzalez’s Testimony

Officer Gonzalez’s testimony contradicted ADA Stephan’s representations in Gonzalez’s name.  Officer Gonzalez testified that he would never have utilized the word “know” unless he knew.  Officer Gonzalez testified that information on an armed robbery over drugs pursuant to Madison Police standards would have generated an obligation for an investigation, which would have generated an obligation to produce reports.  In other words, there should be reports about Darell Fowler and the armed robbery.  However, it gets worse…

Officer Gonzalez testified that he personally told ADA Stephan that when Fowler moved into the Langdon Street area, crime in that area went up.  Officer Gonzalez also testified that he would have put this information into a police report if directed to do so by ADA Stephan.  This testimony means that ADA Stephan personally received exculpatory information, withheld that information, and then made representations in court to the contrary.  As of yet, there is no indication that the court intends to take any steps about Officer Gonzalez’s testimony.  However, due to the Supreme Court’s action of March 30, 2012, ADA Stephan will obtain the prize he was seeking on March 26, 2012, i.e. Atty. Sommers removed from the case.

Brief Recap of Darell Fowler and the March 26, 2012 Hearing

Darell Fowler was subpoenaed on March 19, 2012 for the March 26, 2012 hearing.  Fowler appeared.  However, later, his attorney, Dennis Burke, came to court and then proceeded to leave the courthouse with Fowler.  This prevented Fowler from being called as a witness on March 26th.  Despite the mind-boggling arrogance of Atty. Burke, there appears to be very little concern about what occurred on the part of the court.

There was good reason for calling Fowler as a witness.  One reason was to ask him directly what armed robbery Officer Gonzalez was referring to (that has yet to be revealed).  Another was to ask Fowler about statements that Fowler could have answered, or could have been introduced via other witnesses if Fowler took the Fifth.  These statements would have substantiated detectives purposely planting false information in their reports.

However, given the plea agreement proffered by ADA Stephan to Fowler (See Attachment #60), ADA Stephan should be insisting that Fowler not take the Fifth if Fowler wants the benefits of the plea agreement, because it obligates Fowler to “offer truthful testimony in response to both questions from the state as well as Defendant Gray’s attorney.”

There is no indication that the court is concerned that Fowler’s non-compliance with a subpoena precluded Gray from his legal and constitutional right to call Fowler as a witness.  There is also no indication that the court is having difficulty with ADA Stephan’s vehement hostility of Fowler testifying in light of what is the purported proposed plea agreement.  If Fowler is not being required to testify truthfully, then by any reasonable analysis, ADA Stephan and the Dane County DA’s Office are obligated to inform both the court and the defense to this effect.

ADA Stephan is not the only beneficiary to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s actions of March 30, 2012 against Atty. Sommers.  Fowler is likewise off the hook.

There are three other aspects stemming from the March 26, 2012 hearing.  Two are addressed in the next pieces, and the third will be addressed in section VI.

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