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September 2014

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Andrew Wirth receives maximum sentence

Convicted killer gets 10 years in prison

It was an emotional day at the Jefferson County Courthouse when Andrew Wirth, convicted on two counts of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, received a 10-year prison sentence coupled with 10 years of extended supervision. The sentence came just over a year after he shot and killed two people outside a Jefferson bar.

The 25-year-old Jefferson man received the highest possible sentencing for each count after he shot and killed Gregg Peters and off-duty Town of Oconomowoc Police Officer Jennifer Luick on Dec. 6, 2009.

Emotions ran high during the sentencing as the victims' family members recounted fond memories and bemoaned the loss of their loved ones. In the same breath, many also indicated their frustration with a justice system that found Wirth not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in October.

Speaking directly to Wirth during the hearing, Kim Leinweber, Luick's sister, said, "My hope was that the decisions that you made the evening of Dec. 6 last year, would be ones that you would have to contemplate for the rest of your life within the constraints of prison. We now know that justice was not served, and this will not be the case."

But most of the emotionally charged words were saved for Wirth himself.

"I hope that you and your lawyers remember and visualize each day how you left my sister to die on a dirty bar floor, and picture her there just as I have done every day since then. I hope it haunts you and keeps you up at night. I hope it eats away at you as your bad choices have eaten away at a piece of me that can never be mended," Leinweber said, as family members and friends clutched tissue boxes and shed tears.

"I hate you for shooting my parents. I think that you should go to jail forever," read a letter from Luick's 12-year-old son as Wirth calmly sipped a cup of water.

The sound of sniffles filled the packed courtroom as Tom Peters, Gregg's father, reminisced about his son's personality and the good times they shared together.

"To have one of your children die is extremely emotional, but to have him shot three times by this angry and violent person is so devastating it is beyond comprehension," he said.

The victims' families prepared slide shows with music and photographs of Luick and Peters with their families and friends as a tribute.

Throughout the sentencing, Wirth showed little emotion as he sat in an orange prison suit with a stun belt around his midsection, his face stoic.

"This has been a terrible tragedy for all three families. No matter how this turns out, Andrew and our family will live with this for the rest of our lives," said his father, Jeff Wirth.

Only during his father's statement describing what his family has gone through did Wirth begin to shed a few tears.

Reading from a prepared statement, Wirth said, "That was the worst day of my life … I can never take back the actions that I took that night."

After reviewing some of the statements that Wirth made after the shootings, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Weston said, "The issue really is Mr. Wirth's character … (Wirth) single-handedly, in one night, diminished our community's sense of security.

"This is the worst possible homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon that one can envision," she said.

Weston called Wirth a "very angry person." Referring to his extensive use of profanity, Weston said, "No civilized person speaks that way, Mr. Wirth."

Weston pointed to Wirth's well-documented outburst in the courtroom when he was initially charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and other violent episodes when she declared Wirth "100-percent responsible" for the shootings, citing his often violent and unstable personality.

"You do have a hairpin trigger as (Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ) stated, and you are a time bomb waiting to explode," Weston said. "This was an explosion, but you were only convicted of negligent homicide by negligent handling."

As a result, the judge issued the highest possible penalty, along with strict restrictions during Wirth's 10 years of extended supervision. He will not be able to set foot into any bar or tavern, nor be in contact with any sort of motorcycle club or club members. In addition, he will undergo a full psychological evaluation upon his release from prison and comply with all treatment recommended by that evaluation, among other restrictions.

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