Welch waives preliminary hearing
Justin Patrick Welch of California, who is charged with the murder of Kimberly Smith of Oconomowoc, waived his preliminary hearing in Waukesha Thursday. He entered a plea of not guilty and was bound over for trial.
Welch is being held on $2 million bail after he escaped from authorities while he was being transported from San Diego, Calif., back to Wisconsin. He was captured Jan. 13 in Oklahoma.
Smith's former boyfriend and the father of her son, Darren M. Wold, 41, of Texas, is accused of hiring Welch, through his longtime friend Jack E. Johnson, 65, of Mexico.
According to prosecutors, Wold was angry over a custody dispute involving his 4-year-old son. Wold is alleged to have transferred money to Johnson, who in turn purchased a plane ticket for Welch to fly from San Diego to Milwaukee on Sept. 29. Wold sent $200 to Johnson on that day, and he sent it to an Oak Creek bank where Welch allegedly picked it up. Welch stayed in an Oconomowoc hotel Sept. 30 and left the morning of Oct. 1, flying from Mitchell International Airport to San Diego.
Authorities picked up Johnson while he was trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico on Nov. 18. Welch was also arrested that day trying to cross the border, but not before he tried to flee police in a high-speed chase in Mexico, according to Assistant District Attorney Andrea Will.
Watch for an update to this story when a trial date is set.
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