WASHBURN COUNTY -- The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has reversed the judgment of conviction in a sexual assault case in which Sarona, WI man, Russell Wilson was convicted of sexual assault. Wilson also entered a withdrawal of his Guilty plea in the matter, which has been granted. The case is being returned to Washburn County Circuit Court for further hearings.
DrydenWire.com previously reported in December 2016 that Wilson had been sentenced to serve 20 years for his conviction of Repeated Sexual Assault of a Child, a Class C Felony in Washburn County Circuit Court.
While Wilson was awaiting that sentencing on the sexual assault conviction, additional charges were filed in November of 2016 against him in Washburn County for Class A Felony Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, and Class A Felony Solicitation of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide.
According to a criminal complaint filed against him in that second case, Wilson allegedly sought the assistance of a hitman to kill the victim of the sexual assault case along with the mother of the victim and the mother’s significant other.
Online circuit court records show that following Wilson’s sentencing on the sexual assault conviction he filed an appeal of the sexual assault conviction.
After reviewing the case, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals found that during the course of the sexual assault case Wilson was given to understand that he could be facing a potential sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release on extended supervision; but the maximum term for his conviction was 40 years with 25 years initial confinement in prison followed by 15 years extended supervision.
The Court of Appeal decision to reverse Wilson’s judgment states that Wilson entered his plea in the sexual assault after being advised incorrectly of his potential sentence.
The Court, therefore, reversed Wilson’s judgment and directed that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea; sending the case back to Circuit Court for further hearings.
Excerpt of Court of Appeal Decision:
We conclude that, generally, a defendant who is incorrectly told during a plea colloquy, and who otherwise understands, that the maximum sentence for his or her crime is life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision, when in fact the maximum sentence is twenty-five years initial confinement and fifteen years’ extended supervision, has been advised of a maximum penalty that is substantially higher than the actual penalty. This conclusion is compelled by the unique nature of a potential sentence that largely assures the individual will die while incarcerated, as compared to a sentence that provides that individual with a reasonable possibility of release from confinement under the correct maximum. Such a reasonable possibility exists here, given Wilson’s age at the time he was sentenced. We therefore reverse both Wilson’s judgment of conviction and the circuit court’s order denying his motion for postconviction relief. We remand for further proceedings, directing that Wilson be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.
Online circuit court records show that Wilson remains in custody on a $50,000 cash bail bond and is prohibited from having contact with the victim(s) of the cases or with the victims’ family members.
Wilson will appear again in Washburn County Circuit Court regarding his criminal charges in both of the cases filed against him; first for a review hearing scheduled in late August 2020, and then for a competency hearing in September 2020.
Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty