Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz sentenced a serial violent felon to just six months in prison for breaking his estranged wife's face in a brutal beating. Less than one year later, the man gunned down the same victim outside her home, nearly killing her, according to court records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
The offender, Lazarick Spade, allegedly shot his ex-wife to "get even" with her for reporting the prior assault, according to court records.
The disturbing case could fuel concerns about Protasiewicz's sentencing record and professional judgment, after critics have accused her of handing down light sentences to domestic abusers and sexual predators during her time on the Milwaukee Circuit Court. The high-stakes April 4 race between Protasiewicz and her conservative opponent, former state Supreme Court justice Dan Kelly, will decide the ideological breakdown of the swing state's top court and could have national implications for the 2024 presidential elections.
It also raises questions about Protasiewicz's suggestion last week that she only has "one case where someone reoffended." In that incident, which Protasiewicz's opponents have highlighted in negative campaign attacks, she released a child sex offender without jail time who went on to kill a woman in a drunken car crash.
"That is the case where I indicated hindsight is 20/20," said Protasiewicz.
Protasiewicz did not respond to questions about whether she also regrets her decision in the Spade case.
A week before Christmas in 2015, Spade brutally beat his estranged wife after she told him she was ending the relationship and "moving on with her life." At the time of the assault, Spade had escaped from a prison work-release program, where he was supposed to serve a nine-month sentence for abusing the couple’s child.
Spade confronted his wife, who is referred to as T.S. in court records, outside a house in east Milwaukee, according to court records. He pushed her to the ground and then "dragged T.S. and punched and kicked her in the face," according to reports from multiple witnesses, who ran outside to pull Spade off of the victim. "As a result, T.S. sustained facial hematomas and a facial fracture," responding officers told the court.
Spade was initially charged with felony battery and faced up to 10 years in prison as a habitual offender, but the charges were reduced in a plea deal approved by Protasiewicz. She sentenced him to six months in prison.
Less than two years later, in June 2017, Spade ambushed and shot his ex-wife multiple times outside her home in Milwaukee, according to court records.
T.S. "arrived home around 10:55 p.m. and was walking toward her house when [Spade] came toward her and started shooting at her," say the court records. She "ran toward the house as [Spade] continued shooting."
The victim "sustained three through and through gunshot wounds," the records state. "One shot went through her left foot. One shot went through her upper right arm. One shot went through her by the shoulder blade and caused damage to one of her lungs."
In total, Spade fired 19 rounds at T.S., according to investigators.
T.S., who was hospitalized but survived the attack, told police that earlier that day she had run into Spade at the courthouse while taking out papers to file a restraining order against him. He allegedly told her he would "get even with her for sending him to jail" in the assault case.
Spade was convicted by a jury of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in 2019. He is serving 40 years in prison.