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Van Hollen Praises WI Court of Appeals Decision Upholding Milwaukee County First-Degree Reckless Homicide and Felony Murder Convictions

 

"Adamm Linton's violent crimes deserved swift and certain punishment upon conviction," says Van Hollen. "We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to bring violent offenders like Linton to justice."

 

MADISON- This morning, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld Adamm [1] D.J. Linton's judgments of conviction for first-degree reckless homicide and felony murder, party to the crime, with armed burglary as the underlying offense. A Milwaukee County jury concluded that Linton participated in two separate criminal events leading to the brutal deaths of two Milwaukee men. The court of appeals concluded that (1) the Milwaukee County circuit court properly held that Linton waived his right to an attorney during police questioning; (2) the two criminal events were properly joined for a single trial; and (3) the circuit court committed no error in admitting autopsy photos of one of the victims into evidence at that single trial.

 

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office represented the State of Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, praised the decision. "Adamm Linton's violent crimes deserved swift and certain punishment upon conviction," said Van Hollen. "We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to bring violent offenders like Linton to justice."

 

Milwaukee police detectives developed information linking Linton to an attempted robbery and a separate burglary in which the two victims were killed by their assailants. Linton made separate statements and argued on appeal that the detectives ignored his request for counsel during the first statement. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the circuit court's finding that Linton did not ask for a lawyer during his first statement and did not make an unambiguous request for a lawyer during the second statement.

 

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals also concluded that, under well-established Wisconsin law, the circuit court committed no error in joining Linton's two cases for a single trial. The court of appeals concluded that joinder was appropriate because both cases involved homicides that occurred after efforts were made to take property from others, and both homicides occurred within an approximately one-week time frame.

 

Finally, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that the circuit court properly exercised its discretion when it allowed into evidence autopsy photos of one of the victims, who had been struck repeatedly in the head with what appeared to be bolt cutters. While the photos were graphic, both the circuit court and the court of appeals agreed that the photos were admissible to prove an element of the "armed burglary" charge.

 

From the Wisconsin Court of Appeals' opinion:

 

As explained by the trial court, if the jury determined that Linton was guilty of felony murder as a party to the crime, the verdict form directed it to determine, as a penalty enhancer, whether Linton committed the underlying crime of burglary while armed with a dangerous weapon. The statutory definition of a “dangerous weapon” includes any “instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” WIS. STAT. § 939.22(10). Bolt cutters are not generally considered a dangerous weapon but can be as used here. After reviewing the photographs, we conclude that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in admitting them into evidence. The trial court was sensitive to the nature of the photos, mindful of the potential prejudice and concluded that this was outweighed by their probative value. Under our deferential standard of review, we cannot say that the trial court erroneously exercised its discretion when it allowed the photographs to be presented during Linton's trial.

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Adamm D.J. Linton remains incarcerated at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.

 

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision in State of Wisconsin v. Adamm D.J. Linton, Nos. 2009AP2256-CR and 2009AP2257-CR, appears at the court's website:


http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=53889

 

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office prosecuted Linton in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Assistant Attorney General Warren D. Weinstein represented the State of Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.