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Madison - The Court of Appeals rejected Jason M. Brush's appeal from a Kenosha County judgment of conviction for first-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery to a probation officer, and false imprisonment, all by use of a dangerous weapon and as a repeat offender. Brush, who pled guilty to the charges and then sought to withdraw his guilty plea before sentencing, was sentenced by Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge William W. Warren III to 20 years for recklessly endangering safety using a dangerous weapon, 8 years for battery to a probation officer, and 8 years for false imprisonment. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
At issue on appeal was whether the trial court appropriately denied Brush's request to withdraw his guilty plea. The court of appeal ruled that, given the facts presented, the trial court was within its discretion to deny the plea withdrawal.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office represented the State on appeal, agreed with the court's decision. "Though courts will allow a presentence plea withdrawal where there is fair and just reason to do so, defendants can't change their pleas simply because they don't like the recommendation of a presentence investigation report. If you are a repeat criminal who chokes a probation agent while he is driving you, seriously endangering the lives of those agents and motorists, then you can expect authorities would recommend substantial confinement."
According to the complaint, two probation agents were transporting Brush from the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility to the Kenosha County Jail when he wrapped the "belt chains" used to restrain him around the neck of the probation agent who was driving the vehicle. The probation agent could feel Brush pulling hard on the chains and started to pass out. After the probation agent lost control of the vehicle, Brush finally let up on his grip and attempted to flee.
A copy of the decision is available at http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=33716.
The State was represented in the trial court by the Kenosha County District Attorney's office. Assistant Attorney General James Friemuth represented the State before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.