- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014
1 dead, 1 injured in Milwaukee shooting

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee police are investigating a shooting that left one man dead and another man hospitalized.

Officers responded to reports of gunfire at about 11 a.m. Saturday in northern Milwaukee. A 24-year-old Milwaukee man was declared dead at the scene. A 42-year-old Milwaukee man was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

It’s unclear whether anyone else was involved in the incident.

Authorities say the investigation is still in its very early stages.

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Lawyers who fought same-sex marriage ban seek legal fees

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The lawyers who successfully fought to undo Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage are seeking to recoup $1.2 million in legal costs from the case.

Led by the American Civil Liberties Union, a group of same-sex couples sued Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials in February to overturn the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. A U.S. District Court judge overturned the amendment in July. The U.S. Supreme Court later let that decision stand, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin and four other states.

In a filing Friday, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them $1.2 million for attorney fees and other expenses from the case. Federal law allows winning parties in civil rights cases to seek awards for legal costs, they said.

The Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1AuQCVB) reported that the plaintiffs argued that those large costs are due to the state’s vigorous defense of the ban.

“Defendants’ decisions to file multiple motions, conduct discovery, assert novel arguments, and frantically try to stop marriages from occurring increased the substantive and procedural complexity of plaintiffs’ counsels’ work in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, and thus the time required to competently prosecute the action,” the lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in their brief.

Thirteen lawyers and a team of paralegals spent 2,393 hours on the case, according to the brief, for a total of $1.2 million in attorney fees plus other expenses.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which defended the constitutional amendment, did not return a request for comment.

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DOJ says no rape evidence testing without consent

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Department of Justice is recommending police don’t submit evidence from sexual assault exams to the state crime lab unless victims have consented to cooperate with investigators.

The recommendation is part of a plan DOJ’s Sexual Assault Response Team has developed to address some 6,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits sitting on local police departments’ shelves. The kits have been sitting for a variety of reasons. Sometimes prosecutors have decided the cases were too weak to warrant testing. Some cases may have been resolved without the need for testing. In still others attackers may already be in jail or prison - agencies must retain evidence until a sentence is complete - or a victim refused to cooperate with investigators.

The 2011-13 state budget mandated that if a victim consents to a sexual assault exam in a stranger attack that evidence must go to the state crime lab, regardless of the victim’s wishes. The DOJ’s new plan offers local police additional guidelines for prioritizing submissions.

Those guidelines recommend sending in kits when charges have been filed or victims have agreed to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors. If a victim undergoes an exam but isn’t sure whether he or she wants to participate in a prosecution, the hospital should send the evidence to the crime lab, which will hold it until the victim makes a decision or for six years. The statute of limitations for most felonies runs out then. If a victim refuses to participate in the prosecution, police shouldn’t send in their evidence kit.

DOJ officials said victims who don’t want to be part of the criminal justice system shouldn’t be forced to cooperate. Jill Karofsky, executive director of DOJ’s Office of Crime Victim Services, said the agency is trying to respect victims’ wishes. Sexual assault exams are “super-invasive,” she said, and victims may not want all those details going public in court.

If a victim chooses not to cooperate and their kits don’t get to the crime lab, law enforcement loses an opportunity to develop a DNA profile of the attacker. That means investigators won’t be able to link him to other assaults and determine if he’s a serial rapist. But Karofsky said a victim’s wishes and mental well-being must come first.

“We’re asking them to make a huge decision,” she said. “We want them to be able to control the evidence.”

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Milwaukee man gets 44 years for playground shooting death

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee man who shot and killed a 10-year-old on a playground during a gunfight with another man was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

Sierra Guyton, a third-grader, was playing with her 12-year-old sister at the Clark Street Elementary School playground May 21 when she was shot in the head during the crossfire. She held on for months, but was taken off life support in July.

Sylvester Akeem Lewis, 19, was convicted of reckless homicide for her death last month. His lawyer argued Lewis was only trying to defend himself in a gunfight. Before his sentencing on Friday, he read a short letter apologizing for Guyton’s death.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Daniel Konkol sentenced Lewis to 44 years in prison, with terms for 17 years of extended supervision after he’s released. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1uCboir) reported Konkol denied a call for a lighter sentence from Lewis’ attorney.

Scott Anderson argued his client’s tough upbringing - Lewis was abandoned by his parents at age 12 - made him a “product of societal ills.” He asked for a 30-year sentence.

Guyton’s parents weren’t in court for the sentencing. Malcom Hunt, a minister with Pastors United for Community Advocacy, said her parents are still struggling with young girl’s death. They preferred Lewis get the maximum sentence of 67 1/2 years.

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