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Justice served?

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:22 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
Opinion piece in the April 28, 2009, Tomahawk Leader:

Easter came and went this year in Tomahawk with nary a problem. For the first Easter in three years, our local law enforcement officers got to spend time with their families, instead of standing over the body of a young woman. The community celebrated a normal Easter as well – church services, family get-togethers. No police crime scene tape, no anxiety, no one getting news that their loved ones would not be coming home ever again.

And three days after the holiday, court was held in Lincoln County as one of the defendants in the 2007 Tracy Maurer murder case took a plea bargain. Young Katie Decker, 18, Rhinelander, was about to learn her fate for her involvement in the brutal murder of Maurer. And it seems, as usual, justice was swift.

Decker was not even 18 when her job of serving customers at a fast food restaurant in Rhinelander turned into a murder scheme plotted by her then-boyfriend, Seth Louis, now 26. Louis, Decker and Heather Ward, 20, another defendant facing charges, knew that Maurer knew their secrets – from breaking and entering and theft to underage sex. So the three of them hatched a plan, and we firmly believe when Decker supplied knives out of her parents’ kitchen she knew what was about to happen. No one hands a knife to a would-be killer thinking he is going to simply vandalize. The three were on a mission that night, to silence the only witness to their antics.
According to Louis, Decker was not there when the murder took place. Her parents prevented her from sneaking out of the house and joining in on the crime. Louis gave Decker a bag of his bloody clothes from the murder, which she hid under her bed. In the days following, a search of her bedroom by police turned up the incriminating clothing.

Decker was charged and convicted in Oneida County with aiding a felon. She received 10 months in the county jail with Huber privileges and probation. But when judgment came to pass in Lincoln County Court, everyone expected more; after all, she was about to admit her participation in a gruesome crime, one that took the life of Tracy Maurer.

But instead of a prison sentence, or even an equal year sentence in the county jail, a Lincoln County judge sentenced Decker to 90 days in the county jail. Additionally, she received 52 days’ credit. That’s less than three months of her life behind bars, in exchange for the life of Tracy Maurer.

A third or fourth offense drunk driver would have, and has received, a harsher sentence. Someone who fails to pay child support can expect much more, yet a person who admits their direct participation in a murder gets 90 days?

We have discussed in this column before not everyone deserves to go to prison, and rehabilitation is the goal of the courts. We were shocked when an arson and burglary defendant got a proverbial slap on the wrist (still a sentence harsher then Decker’s) after a multi-county burglary ring. But it floors us that a person who admits to the involvement in a murder gets county jail time with Huber release. In neighboring Marathon County, just sitting in a get-away car in an armed robbery will net you years in prison. Yet in Lincoln County, we yawn and go on.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Maurer family as they move on from this tragedy. And we also hope and pray that young Katie Decker, a woman who has now been given two second chances at life, turns around and shows us she has earned that second chance.

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 7:10 am
by kkmar
Let me start by saying that I have only, in recent months, began to follow the Tomahawk area news, with my decision to relocate there.

I have lived much of my life in the Houston, Texas area and crimes of this magnitude are something that we see on our news, literally, every single day. It has been happening much too close to home, which is one of my biggest reasons for moving to Tomahawk to begin with. Not much surprises me any more. But also, being from Texas, the outcome of this girl's involvement in this particular crime simply astonishes me. Never could I imagine anyone being able to plea out of charges so serious, at least with a sentence such as she received. What could possibly have gone through the judge's mind in accepting this deal? Did he completely fail to consider the family of the victim? Three months in jail for involvement in a murder is simply unacceptable to me. I realize that the girl is young, and that she wasn't actually at the scene of the murder, but from the information I have read no one forced her to take part. It sounds like she knew exactly what was going to happen when she provided the weapons involved and when she assisted in covering up the crime. Granted, her involvement didn't warrant the death penalty in my opinion, but definitely a lengthy prison sentence.

I just don't get it, and don't agree with it.

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 10:05 am
by Floyd Alvin
I totally agree with you kkmar.

But these sort of rulings are becoming common place all over the country.

We just had a guy get a 90 day community service sentence after he killed a women when, under the influence of smoking grass, he crossed over a double yellow line to pass a car and caused a head on accident.

You think things are bad now, wait until the new president gets his 3 Supreme Court justices in place that he gets to appoint in his tenure.

Always keep two things in mind, we do not have a "justice" system in this country, we have a legal system. It is touted as the best system in the world, but justice is not always served.

The other thing to remember is there is really no such thing as law, there is only politics. Politicians make, change and abuse the laws as they see fit. And then they appoint other politicians to interpret them.

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 7:31 pm
by Floyd Alvin
I just remember, Michael Vick got two years in jail for the dog-fighting ring....

As I have said before... animals have more rights then humans in this wacky world.... how sad. :-(

Re: Justice served?

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 8:20 am
by Deb Richardson
Good point Floyd, protect our animals, but not human life. Hmmmm, wonder if the Lincoln County judicial systems is working on having the reputation of being the place to commit crimes or is it just a sign of the times?