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Barber admits he shot and killed 21-year-old client last year in Mount Pleasant

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RACINE — A barber arrested for shooting a client was in Racine County Circuit Court on Monday for the first of two hearings required for a plea of not guilty by reason of mental defect (NGI).

In the emotionally-charged hearing, the defendant pleaded guilty to the underlying facts, acknowledging he pulled the trigger that killed 21-year-old Andre Sandoval, and a trial date was set to determine whether a mental defect was a factor.

Afterward, the victim’s father called the shooter a “cold-blooded killer and murderer.”

Tamir Williams, 35, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon for the shooting death of Sandoval.

Investigators were dispatched to Angel’s Beauty Salon, 2221 Durand Ave., Mount Pleasant, on Aug. 28, 2021, on the report that a man had been shot in front of the salon.

Attorney Gregory A. Holdahl and Tamir Williams

Attorney Gregory A. Holdahl, left, and Tamir Williams appear in Racine Circuit Court on Monday. 

Williams reportedly told investigators that Sandoval refused to pay for a haircut.

Father

Sandoval’s father was allowed to speak at Monday’s hearing. The victim’s mother stood with his father but did not comment.

“We can’t comprehend or understand why this happened,” he told the court. “There is no reason on this earth why our son should not be here today.”

He said the family wanted to ensure that Sandoval was remembered, and the defendant was never given an opportunity to hurt anyone else.

“He has no right to sentence somebody to death for what my son did,” Sandoval’s father said. “He’s a cold-blooded killer.”

To Williams, Sandoval’s father spit out, “Murderer.”

Judge Repischak cut him off saying, “You are to address me and not Mr. Williams.”

Sandoval’s father apologized, then said, “We’re here so you understand Andre was a good person … There’s no reason why this should happen to him.”

Mental defect

Under Wisconsin statutes, mental defect cases proceed in two phases.

This first phase is the factual phase, sometimes referred to as the guilt phase, which can occur either through a jury trial or through a plea.

Williams opted to plead guilty to first-degree intentional homicide, acknowledging he did pull the trigger, so a jury trial was not necessary.

The second phase is a trial to determine if a mental defect or a psychotic episode prevented the defendant from distinguishing right from wrong or conforming their behavior to the law.

The trial for Williams is now scheduled for Dec. 13.

Rather than having a jury trial, the defense agreed to a court trial, which means Judge Robert Repischak will be the sole person to determine if the defendant had a mental defect that contributed to his actions.

A mental defect plea shifts the burden of the case from the state to the defense. That is, the defense must prove there was a mental defect or disease and as a result the defendant was not responsible for his actions.

A court-appointed physician previously examined Williams and was in support of the defendant’s plea of not guilty by reason of mental defect.

If it is determined the defendant did not have a mental defect, he proceeds to sentencing on the charge of first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon. If it is determined there was a mental defect, the defendant will be turned over to state custody and will be held in a mental health facility rather than a typical prison.

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Reporter

Dee Hölzel has been reporting since 1999 and joined the Journal Times in October 2020. Dee graduated with an MA in History from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, specializing in the intersection of history and journalism.

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