A cold-blooded killer who burned his victims’ bodies. A felon accused of murdering the niece of a Milwaukee politician. A domestic abuser who gunned down his ex-wife.
These criminals had one thing in common—they were repeat offenders who preyed on their victims after receiving lenient sentences from liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz.
Protasiewicz’s conservative opponent, former justice Dan Kelly, has argued that her light sentencing record raises questions about her judgment. The high-stakes election, which will take place Tuesday, April 4, will determine the ideological breakdown of the swing state’s top court and could have national implications for the 2024 presidential elections. Spending in the race has already exceeded $40 million, making it by far the most expensive state judicial election in U.S. history.
During Protasiewicz’s time on the Milwaukee Circuit Court bench, she let off dozens of domestic abusers and child predators with little or no jail time, according to court records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon—and many of them went on to commit new violent crimes.
Here are seven of the most disturbing cases:
1. Lazarick Spade
In December 2015, Spade escaped from a prison work-release program—where he was serving time for felony child abuse—and assaulted his estranged wife on a public sidewalk in Milwaukee. He pushed her to the ground and punched and kicked her, causing a fracture to her face.
Protasiewicz Sentence: Six months jail.
Aftermath: Shortly after he was released from prison, Spade ambushed his ex-wife outside her home in Milwaukee and shot her multiple times to “get even” with her for reporting the prior assault. She survived but lost a lung and suffered permanent injuries. The victim told the Free Beacon that the shooting likely wouldn’t have happened if Protasiewicz had given Spade a more serious sentence—and said she doesn’t think Protasiewicz deserves to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
2. Antwone Eichelberger
In March 2016, Eichelberger flew into a violent rage and strangled his girlfriend after accusing her of infidelity while he was in prison. The victim managed to flee and barricaded herself in her apartment by “wedg[ing] a chair in front of the door” to keep Eichelberger out, according to court records obtained by the Free Beacon.
Eichelberger broke into the home by smashing his fist through the glass door and “began punching [the victim] repeatedly.” She was eventually able to escape by running barefoot “over the shattered glass, which caused the lacerations to her feet,” and hid in a neighbor’s apartment until police came.
Protasiewicz Sentence: Probation.
Aftermath: Three years later, Eichelberger was charged with felony battery after punching his girlfriend repeatedly in the face, breaking her nose, according to court records.
3. Elijah Combs
In 2016, Combs strangled his girlfriend and punched her multiple times in the face, bloodying her nose and breaking her tooth, according to court records reported by Wisconsin Right Now. He also “kicked and stomped on” the victim “all over her body.” Afterward, he ordered her to “clean up the blood that was splattered throughout the area” and wouldn’t let her leave the house “because her face was so messed up.”
Protasiewicz Sentence: Six months in the House of Corrections.
Aftermath: Combs—who killed himself in late February after leading police on a car chase—is suspected of murdering his girlfriend Aliyah Perez, the 26-year-old niece of Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez, in a shooting in February.
4. Matthew Neumann
In 2015, Neumann was arrested after brandishing a gun and threatening to shoot his wife, according to Fox News.
Protasiewicz Sentence: Probation.
Aftermath: Three years after he was sentenced, Neumann murdered two of his cleaning business employees after a night of drinking. He burned their bodies in a firepit on his property. Neumann’s daughter said she overheard her father say he killed one of the men over a pack of cigarettes, according to reports.
5. Kenneth Wright
In 2020, Kenneth Wright, 28, was arrested for sexual assault after impregnating a 15-year-old girl.
Aftermath: Less than a year after his sentence, Wright was charged with killing a teenage girl in a drunk driving accident.
6. Kenneth Blair
In 2018, Blair was charged with sexually assaulting 3 children aged 7, 8, and 11.
Aftermath: Three years later, Blair was charged with assaulting one of the same children, although the case was reportedly dismissed due to issues with the criminal complaint.
7. Quantrell Bounds
In 2019, Bounds was accused of filming his sexual assault of a 13-year-old and posting it on Facebook. He was charged with first-degree child sex assault involving a “person under the age of 13,” which was later reduced to third-degree sexual assault, according to Milwaukee County records. He was also charged with publishing a “depiction of person w/out consent.”
Aftermath: Bounds was arrested again last June for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The case is still open, according to records.