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Crime-and-courts
Harry Canady Jr. slaying
Jury finds Dominique Knight guilty for 2017 murder of Harry Canady Jr.

RACINE — A jury needed less than three hours Wednesday to convict Dominique Knight of a 2017 homicide.

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Knight was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide with a dangerous weapon for the May 7, 2017, killing of 20-year-old Harry Canady Jr. The Class A felony carries a mandatory life sentence.

In closing arguments of the two-day trial, Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Sommers used a metaphor about a puzzle depicting Dorothy, the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Toto and the Emerald City. But one piece, Dorothy’s second ruby slipper, was missing.

Russell J.A. Jones, the fourth defense attorney assigned to the case, argued that filling in the last puzzle piece would have been an “unreasonable leap of faith,” but the jury disagreed.

There’s no video of Knight, 27, shooting Canady — which would have filled in that last puzzle piece — but the state provided enough surrounding evidence to get the jury to believe “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Knight had shot and killed Canady.

ADAM ROGAN, adam.rogan@journaltimes.com 

Harry Canady's older sister Mikaela Ghani, left, begins to cry after hearing that Dominique Knight, the man accused of killing her little brother, had been found guilty Wednesday afternoon. Canady's mother, Tanya Wooden, second from left, begins to pray. To their right, Nick Contreras, a Racine Police investigator in the case looks on, flanked by his wife Rachael.

Not a ‘slam dunk’

Sommers was open with the jury that the prosecution didn’t have a smoking gun. “I’m not coming in here with a slam dunk,” she said during closing arguments. “We wouldn’t be here at trial if I did.”

ADAM ROGAN, adam.rogan@journaltimes.com 

Racine County Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Sommers holds up an evidence bag during her closing arguments Wednesday in the trial that found Dominique Knight guilty of first-degree intentional homicide with a dangerous weapon.

Much of the state’s argument Wednesday morning relied on the testimony of Jonathan Sparks, who lived in the same Racine County Jail “pod” as Knight from February through May 2018.

During that time, Sparks claimed that Knight had confessed to killing Canady and shared information that hadn’t previously been made public — including the type of bullet that killed Canady (25 caliber) and the states to which Knight had reportedly fled before turning himself in to authorities in Texas. Sparks also claimed that Knight bragged he was going to escape prosecution after Shannon died.

Knight’s defense attorney, Russell J.A. Jones, argued that Sparks could have learned that information from court documents to which Knight would have had access in his cell. Many inmates keep police reports and legal “discovery” documents in their cells, Jones said.

But Sparks said he never went into Knight’s cell to read the documents, nor did Knight ever bring them into the common area, according to Sparks.

Jones also called Sparks’ credibility into question. Sparks is currently facing a first-degree reckless homicide charge and could be looking at a long prison sentence. By testifying, Sparks admitted, he was hoping for leniency in his own case.

“Mr. Sparks knows if you snitch on someone on your pod it can benefit you,” Jones said.

ADAM ROGAN, adam.rogan@journaltimes.com 

Jonathan Sparks testifies Wednesday at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave. Sparks said that Dominique Knight made a jailhouse confession to the 2017 killing of Harry Canady Jr.

Sommers maintained that Knight would have had good reason to speak with Sparks. Sommers described Sparks as “an elder” in the Racine County Jail, because of how long he had been there, and it would make sense for Knight to confide in him.

Testimony from multiple Canady family members also showed a motive.

They said that, the day before Harry Canady Jr. was killed, Knight had arrived at the home of Canady’s father with two other men who threatened the life of Canady’s brother and other family members. Knight — along with two other men, Roger Gardner and Donte Shannon — allegedly felt that he was owed at least $1,000 by Harry Canady’s older brother, David, for a cocaine delivery that was never made. Shannon was killed in a January 2018 police shooting.

D’Angelo McGlorn, Knight’s cousin, also testified on Tuesday. McGlorn said he received a phone call from Knight on May 7, 2017, in which Knight said he was looking at Canady and described his clothing: a gray hoodie and sweatpants.

Minutes after that call, Canady was dead.

ADAM ROGAN, adam.rogan@journaltimes.com 

Harry Canady Sr., the father of the late Harry Canady Jr. who was killed in May 2017, hugs a family member after Dominique Knight was found guilty on Wednesday of the murder of Canady Jr.

Family reactions

As soon as Judge Mark F. Nielsen read the guilty verdict, several relatives of Knight left the courtroom. They could be heard weeping outside the door.

Knight didn’t flinch. He sat quietly as the jury was polled. As he was taken away by the bailiff, Knight gave a small salute with his handcuffed right hand to the family members who stayed.

Canady’s parents and sister shed tears as well, evidently relieved that the long justice process finally was over.

Tanya Wooden, Canady’s mother, said that she would have been OK if the verdict had gone either way. She was just relieved that state attorneys and Racine law enforcement “had fought so hard for my baby.”

Sentencing

Two hours has been budgeted for a sentencing hearing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 14 at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.

Knight was also found guilty of possession of firearm by a felon, which can carry up to another 10 years of incarceration.


Local
Rail ridership up 3.6 percent
Amtrak's Hiawatha, which stops in Sturtevant, serves record numbers

STURTEVANT — The Milwaukee to Chicago Amtrak Hiawatha trains, which stop in Sturtevant, served an all-time record of more than 858,000 passengers in 2018.

That’s a 3.6 percent increase over 2017, and ridership has more than doubled since 2003 when the service began providing seven daily round trips.

“More people are using the Amtrak Hiawatha every year to avoid traffic congestion, tolls, and parking, and have time to work or relax while traveling,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation secretary-designee Craig Thompson stated in a press release.

In his 2019-2021 budget proposal, Gov. Tony Evers included $45 million to expand the Hiawatha rail service.

The Hiawatha Service travels between Milwaukee and Chicago in less than 90 minutes, with stops at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, Glenview, Ill.; and Chicago’s Union Station; in addition to its stop in Sturtevant.

The Sturtevant train station is located at 9900 E. Exploration Court, just south of Washington Avenue and near The REAL School.

The Hiawatha has one of the nation’s best on-time records with more than 96 percent of trains arriving on time.

“Hiawatha Service is about moving people and connecting them to work, school and family. Amtrak is proud to be a partner with Wisconsin and Illinois to provide safe, reliable and quick rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago,” stated Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president for state-supported services. “We look forward to inviting even more customers with an expansion of the service.”

Two-state support

The Hiawatha Service is supported by Wisconsin and Illinois departments of transportation and is part of Amtrak Midwest, a network of regional trains. Amtrak Midwest offers connections such as Milwaukee to St. Louis three times daily and Milwaukee to Dearborn/Detroit/Pontiac twice daily.

Wisconsin DOT recently was awarded a $5 million grant to improve reliability, safety and accessibility of the Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station. The Federal Railroad Administration issued the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program grant to construct a second platform at the station, as well as elevator towers and an overhead pedestrian bridge to connect the new platform to the station.

The new platform will enable trains to operate on both existing tracks instead of just the eastern track, which is set to allow freight and passenger trains to operate more efficiently and reliably. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.

Improvements

Improvements to Amtrak service over the past few years have included: roll-on bike service; allowing small pets on board; complimentary WiFi; introduction of new locomotives; improved boarding; a new late-night Friday train; and a new train concourse at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

Improvements planned for this year include additional refurbished coach cars and greater seating capacity to accommodate growing ridership.

The Wisconsin and Illinois departments of transportation, in partnership with Amtrak, and in coordination with the Federal Rail Administration also are completing a plan that would expand service from seven to 10 round trips daily.

“Hiawatha Service is about moving people and connecting them to work, school and family. Amtrak is proud to be a partner with Wisconsin and Illinois to provide safe, reliable and quick rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago. We look forward to inviting even more customers with an expansion of the service.” Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president for state-supported services

Crime-and-courts
Sex assault case
Ex-Burlington cop pleads no contest to sexual assault, misconduct charges

RACINE — A former City of Burlington police sergeant accused of sexual assault while on duty pleaded no contest to four charges Tuesday.

Matthew Baumhardt, 30 — who now lives in Campbellsport — pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and two felony counts of official misconduct after an encounter with a Waterford woman last July 28.

The misdemeanor counts were amended from two felony counts of third-degree sexual assault. Each of those charges would have carried a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

In exchange, the state recommended a nine-month sentence in the Racine County Jail for the misdemeanor count of fourth-degree sexual assault. For the other three charges, a period of three years’ probation was recommended, online records show; however, the judge does not need to follow these guidelines at sentencing.

To avoid a potential conflict of interest, Racine County officials asked a special prosecutor and investigators from Kenosha County to handle the case.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Baumhardt on June 17 at the Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.

The night in question

A woman told Kenosha County investigators that she was drunk the evening of July 28. After getting into a fight with her boyfriend, she said she saw Baumhardt’s squad car and asked him for a ride home.

Baumhardt said he could not leave the City of Burlington because he was on patrol but would take her — but would need a favor from her, the woman said.

She said Baumhardt reportedly drove for three to five minutes to a location she did not know, which was later determined to be an old water treatment facility at 640 S. Pine St., where he trained his K-9 officer.

The woman said Baumhardt reminded her that she owed him a favor and asked her to get on her knees and perform a sex act. She said that Baumhardt then asked her to get up, bent her over a railing and had intercourse with her.

The complainant said she did not want to engage in the sexual acts but never said no because Baumhardt was an officer with a gun and a police dog, and she was afraid he would retaliate or force her to engage in sexual acts. She said she was also afraid he would leave her in the building and not give her a ride home.

The next morning, the woman went to a hospital to report the incident. She searched for K-9 officers online, saw Baumhardt’s photo and recognized him immediately.

Burlington Police reports indicated that Baumhardt was working the night in question, and there was no radio traffic or contract from him between 1:47 a.m. and 3:24 a.m. that morning.

Resigned from force in August

Following the incident, the City of Burlington Police Department placed Baumhardt, who had been on the force since 2011, on administrative leave on Aug. 1. On Aug. 23, Baumhardt submitted his resignation without providing a reason.

Baumhardt claimed the woman initiated sexual contact. He told investigators that the woman threatened to report him for rape if he did not have sex with her.

Baumhardt said he told her he did not want to have sex with her because he was married and was afraid he could lose his job. Because of this, he said, he decided to cooperate and do what the woman asked. He stated that afterward he felt like he had been raped because she had blackmailed him to have sex with her.


Submitted Photo 

Baumhardt