Homicide

Guilty in slaying

Wilbert Thomas convicted on all counts, judge decides
2013-06-24T16:34:00Z 2013-12-02T00:36:55Z Guilty in slayingKRISTEN ZAMBO kristen.zambo@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE — A judge on Monday convicted a Racine man of fatally strangling a retired Lake Geneva teacher more than two years ago in Racine and stealing her quarters.

Wilbert L. Thomas, 68, was accused of the Oct. 14, 2010, beating and strangulation death of retired teacher Sandra Lee Teichow. He sat quietly in the basement-level courtroom Monday as Racine County Circuit Judge Tim Boyle read his decision: guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, theft and two counts of bail jumping, all felonies.

While Thomas didn’t visibly react to Boyle’s decision, he later disputed — not the homicide charge — but the theft count.

“I had no reason to steal from the victim. I had no reason at all,” Thomas told Boyle. “I had my own money. $10.”

Teichow, 67, was in Racine at that time for a haircut and to hand out quarters to those in need. She was spotted in at least two Racine laundromats before somehow crossing paths with Thomas that fall afternoon.

As Boyle painstakingly detailed every reason he used to make his decision, about a half-dozen of Teichow’s family members and friends sat watching in the courtroom Monday.

“Sandra Lee Teichow was a humanitarian who was also a beloved family member, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister and an aunt. Her death due to an uncalled-for murderous act of rage caused so much pain and suffering for those who loved her. She is deeply missed to this day,” her family said in a prepared statement.

“We are approaching the end of this first phase of this two-part trial process and we look forward to justice being served,” her family stated.

They left the courtroom without comment, some appearing somber, some wearing smiles.

Teichow’s body was found behind a home in the 1300 block of West Sixth Street after one of the homeowners stepped outside to shake out a rug before company arrived. Police were called to the home at 4:14 p.m. that day, and found Teichow fatally strangled. Her partially clothed body was left near her gold 2004 Honda CRV, lying on her back with dirt in her face and her arms outstretched, according to search warrants and witness testimony during Thomas’ bench trial in spring.

A Racine police investigator testified during the trial that it appeared Teichow’s body had been posed. Her digital camera was beneath one armpit, with leaves and sticks partially covering it. A mark in the dirt near her looked like someone reached down and grabbed a handful of earth.

“The family is just as happy that this phase of the saga is over,” Assistant District Attorney Robert Repischak said after Monday’s hearing. “They have some finality of what happened to their mother.”

Boyle’s ruling now plunges the case into the second phase of the trial: Thomas’ mental health at the time of the slaying.

Thomas, a convicted sex offender, has had a history of mental health issues. He’s had six competency hearings since Teichow’s death, ping-ponging between being competent and declared mentally unfit for trial.

While found competent to proceed to trial, the next phase looks at whether he was mentally sound at the time of the killing.

Attorneys on both sides must talk with mental health experts to determine what day they are available for the next, one-day hearing. Suggested dates, tentatively, are in September and October. Boyle set a status conference for July 22.

“It’s likely he will spend most, if not all, of his life institutionalized,” Repischak said after the hearing, adding Thomas either could be in prison or a state mental hospital after he is sentenced.

Assistant state public defenders Travis Schwantes and Carl Johnson declined to comment after Boyle issued his decision.

Repischak called the judge’s decision “well thought out” and “justified by the evidence.”

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - June 25, 2013 8:05 pm
    Wilber should be at Mendota for life. I agree. MENDOTA! Because of the mental defect. It doesn't absolve him of being a party to a crime - it recognizes that his reasoning/judgement was/is faulty.

    The Injustice is how Wilber is being judged like higher IQ individuals who can weigh the consequences of their decisions.

    The Judge Decided - good lord almighty! The JUDGE! Based on what?

    Mendota protects Society and Wilber -

    I'm more frightened by the so-called "criminal justice system" in Racine than criminals like Wilber!
  2. omarose
    Report Abuse
    omarose - June 25, 2013 9:45 am
    I graduated from high school with Wilbur...I didnt realize that he was 4 years older than me.....He was nothing but mean and a bully in high school......crazy...give me a break....
  3. pgatour123
    Report Abuse
    pgatour123 - June 25, 2013 8:02 am
    Sorry I meant at the Zoo.
  4. pgatour123
    Report Abuse
    pgatour123 - June 25, 2013 8:01 am
    They should have a cage for that dude in jail.
  5. Joeboy5471
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    Joeboy5471 - June 24, 2013 9:19 pm
    If the state had been doing their job from the beginning, the murder would never have happened. Bye, bye Wilber. Mendota for life.........
  6. mt_pleasantly
    Report Abuse
    mt_pleasantly - June 24, 2013 7:24 pm
    Closure yes. Justice, no.
  7. MCP
    Report Abuse
    MCP - June 24, 2013 6:40 pm
    Attorneys and Judges are a joke! I can't wait for the next opinion from either that think we should care. Your profound courtroom statements mean jack....get a real job.
  8. Brewcrew45
    Report Abuse
    Brewcrew45 - June 24, 2013 5:20 pm
    Finally, justice!
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