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Fumich gets life in prison for Kim Cantwell killing

Fumich gets life in prison for Kim Cantwell killing

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RACINE — Harry Fumich, the 50-year-old Racine man whose reportedly difficult childhood culminated in his strangulation of a neighbor with an electrical cord, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Fumich, who pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide for murdering Kim Cantwell and dumping her body in a trash bin, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with no chance of ever applying for release on extended supervision. He declined to speak and sat stoically throughout his sentencing hearing.

Fumich confessed to strangling Cantwell, 50, with an electrical cord on Oct. 4 and first stuffing her body into his refrigerator. Later, with help, he dropped her body into a trash bin behind Sunshine Supermarket, 1559 Taylor Ave. Cantwell’s body was discovered by police in a garbage truck the next day after police were tipped off.

In addition to the homicide charge, Fumich faced a charge of hiding a corpse and felony theft from a person or corpse, but both charges were dismissed as a part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

After his plea, Fumich’s life sentence was preordained. Racine County Circuit Court Judge Emily Mueller’s only decision was whether to grant him a chance to someday apply for release with extended supervision.

Deputy District Attorney Maureen Martinez described a cold-blooded, premeditated killing of Cantwell by Fumich, who believed Cantwell owed him money and had called the police on him in the past.

“He planned to kill her,” Martinez said. “He cut that fan cord and put in his pocket and lured her into his apartment and then put the cord around her neck.”

Fumich told authorities that Cantwell asked him what he was going to do, “And he replied, ‘You gotta go,’” Martinez said.

“He said he tried to lure her into the kitchen but she would not go in all the way, and so he told her he wanted to beat the (expletive) out of her.”

“What he did to Kim Cantwell — who had problems of her own — was cold, it was calculating; he absolutely planned what he was going to do to her, she didn’t stand a chance,” Martinez said.

“And he portrays himself as absolutely dangerous,” Martinez added.

After he’d strangled Cantwell, Fumich rolled her body into a bedspread and stuffed it in the refrigerator, and later got a friend to throw Cantwell’s body into a Dumpster, Martinez said.

If that person hadn’t come forward, she said, Cantwell would have disappeared. “(Fumich) almost got away with it,” she said.

Troubled childhood

Fumich’s public defender, Mindy Nolan, described a troubled upbringing for Fumich. She said he was sexually abused by his brothers through most of his childhood, and led an adult life of drugs and petty crimes. He has spent more time behind bars than out, Nolan and Martinez said. And he has no contact with any family members, Nolan added.

She called Fumich “truly remorseful.” Nolan said a lack of family stability while growing up and that “underlying trauma” led to his longtime crack cocaine addiction, starting when he was 27.

“The drug abuse, and in his words the depth of his abuse … really led up to this offense in October 2016,” Nolan said.

“Your honor, there’s a long history here that brings us to today, that brings us to this offense, a long history of pain and of abuse and of addiction that all leads up to this crime,” Nolan said.

She asked that Fumich be given the chance to petition for his release on extended supervision after 30 years, when he would be 80.

Even if that request were to be granted, Nolan said that “he’s likely not going to get out in 30 years.

“But I think what that gives Harry is a sense of hope. It gives him a sense to get out of bed in the morning. A sense to engage in some sort of programming in the institution. And a sense of hope to be able to live.”

‘Chilling crime’

“This was really a chilling crime,” said Mueller while imposing the maximum penalty. Reading from Fumich’s interview with the presentence investigator, he said Cantwell asked Fumich if he was going to kill her. “He responded, ‘What do you think?’”

After putting Cantwell’s body in the refrigerator, he went to a friend’s house and used crack cocaine, the judge said.

“This presentence investigation presents a really sad and disturbing picture of both your childhood and, frankly, your adult life,” Mueller said. “You didn’t have much of a chance, the way your childhood started. And I understand that.

“But unfortunately, everything that has happened has led to your committing this really heinous crime because you were irritated with Miss Cantwell.”

“This presentence investigation presents a really sad and disturbing picture of both your childhood and, frankly, your adult life." 

— Emily Mueller, Racine County Circuit Court judge 

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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