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Man pleads not guilty by reason of mental defect to arson

Marcus Cole, court cases
Marcus Cole, 37, was in Racine County Circuit Court on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect to arson. – Credit: Dee Hölzel

RACINE — A man accused of setting fire to a duplex pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect Thursday in Racine County Circuit Court.

Marcus Cole, 37, was charged with arson and four counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety for allegedly setting fire to the duplex where he and another family lived.

The defendant was also charged with disarming a peace officer, battery to a law enforcement officer and use of a dangerous weapon for allegedly wrestling a deputy’s taser away from her and using it on her in an alleged getaway attempt.

The alleged attack on the deputy occurred at Ascension Hospital where Cole was taken for care after the fire.

A hearing on the not guilty by reason of mental defect plea was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 30 in Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz’s court.

Case history

Emergency services were dispatched at 8:32 a.m. on Feb. 18 to the 400 block of Ninth Street on the report of a structure fire.

There investigators found a family sitting in a car for warmth. A two-year-old child was treated for smoke inhalation. One of the adults reported hearing banging and breaking sounds coming from the downstairs portion of the duplex shortly before the fire.

According to the criminal complaint, the witness said he went to the rear stairway door where he saw black smoke. He claimed as the family evacuated, he saw Cole sitting on a pillow across the street, smiling.

When questioned by investigators, Cole allegedly admitted to starting the fire to get the attention of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Scientology, who he claimed were out to get him.

Cole allegedly lit a tissue on fire, put the tissue in a fast-food bag and left the bag on his mattress. According to the criminal complaint, he was aware there was a family upstairs.

The defendant is being held on $100,000 bail. He is being held at the Milwaukee County Jail.

Preliminary hearing in attempted murder case continued again

Xavier Jackson, court cases
Xavier Jackson, 20, has been waiting for more than 17 months for a preliminary hearing. He was in Racine County Circuit Court again on Thursday where his case was once again continued. – Credit: Dee Hölzel

Xavier Jackson, 20, has been waiting for more than 17 months for a preliminary hearing as his case was delayed again and again for lack of defense counsel. On Thursday, the case was continued once again but for a different reason.

The defendant was charged in April 2022 with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon – all as party to a crime with use of a dangerous weapon enhancers – for a shooting that may have been a case of mistaken identity.

The defendant was ultimately assigned an attorney, but attorney Robert Lee Taylor had a personal emergency and was not able to attend court on Thursday, so the defendant’s preliminary hearing was continued again to 9 a.m. on Oct. 4.

Case history

The Racine Police Department was dispatched on March 20, 2022 at 7:27 p.m. to the 1100 block of Albert Street on the report of a shooting.

There they found a 16-year-old teen who had been shot seven times. He was having difficulty breathing and was losing consciousness, according to the criminal complaint. Officers began life-saving measures until the juvenile could be taken to the hospital. He was later flown by Flight-for-Life to Children’s Hospital, in Wauwatosa. The teen survived the shooting.

A video surveillance camera in the neighborhood captured images of the shooting. On the video, the victim and a six-year-old child can be seen walking along the sidewalk when an SUV pulled up and stopped in the middle of the street. The driver exited the vehicle and began shooting at the 16-year-old victim while the 6-year-old turned and ran away.

A person in the passenger seat then got out of the SUV and approached the victim, who was now lying on the ground. The passenger stood over the victim and shot him multiple times. Investigators theorize someone from the SUV was also shooting.

The criminal complaint describes the attack as an attempted execution.

Both shooters reentered the SUV and fled the area.

RPD investigators swept the area for additional video evidence. As a result, they were able to identify the vehicle as a 2018 Jeep Compass and were able to get a license plate number. They learned the vehicle had been reported stolen to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on March 17.

In the early morning hours of March 26, the Kenosha Police Department located the Jeep and a pursuit ensued. The Jeep fled into Racine County where it was sighted again in the evening hours in the 1300 block of Maple Street by investigators from the RPD. The driver of the Jeep fled back into Kenosha County.

The vehicle was later located in Zion County, Ill., where law enforcement engaged in a high-speed pursuit for the Jeep. The Jeep eventually crashed. Jackson was identified as the person driving. The co-defendant Jamauel Ford, 24, was also captured.

According to the criminal complaint, the clothing Jackson was wearing was similar to the clothing worn by the shooter in the video captured on March 20.

A firearm was recovered in the flight path taken by Jackson as he fled law enforcement. The .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun was described as somewhat unique because it had a silver-colored slide and a green polymer frame. According to the criminal complaint, there was a photo of Jackson posing with the handgun on his social media page.

According to the criminal complaint, the Smith & Wesson was test fired and the results run through the NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network), which showed the handgun had been used in four other crime scenes and was most likely the handgun used in the shooting of the 16-year-old teen on Albert Street. Additionally, the gun was reportedly stolen.

Inside the Jeep, law enforcement also located a 9 mm Ruger semiautomatic, which was also reported stolen. Casings from test fires of the Ruger were compared to casings from the Albert Street shooting and investigators believe there was a likely match.

The firearms and casings will be sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for further testing, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators theorize the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. According to the criminal complaint, Jackson was wearing tributes to a homicide victim, 14-year-old Eugene Henderson, who was shot and killed on March 15, 2022.

Investigators believe the shooting on Albert Street was in retaliation for that homicide, and the shooters mistook the 16-year-old for someone else, possibly someone belonging to the NFL (Northside For Life) gang.

However, the 16-year-old victim was not involved in the shooting death of Henderson nor was he NFL affiliated, according to the criminal complaint.

The co-defendant Jamauel Ford

Jamauel Ford, 24, is the co-defendant in the case. He is charged with attempted first-degree homicide with use of a dangerous weapon and first-degree recklessly endangering safety – as party to a crime, in both cases.

As with Jackson, Ford’s case has been seriously delayed as the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office and/or the Racine County Circuit Court attempted to appoint legal counsel for him. Ford has been waiting 14 months for a preliminary hearing and arraignment.

The public defender’s office cannot take the case due to a conflict. Three other private attorneys had to back out of the case because they, too, had a conflict.

A conflict might arise from any number of reasons, including the possibility the attorney previously represented a party involved in the case.

On Aug. 29, the court indicated an attorney would be assigned by lottery. Attorney Brian Dimmer was the recipient of that appointment.

A status conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 25.

Court news

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