Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Chippewa County Judge Steven Cray sentenced 21-year-old Matthew Labrec to 20 years in prison in connection to a Chippewa County homicide.
Labrec was initially charged with intentional homicide, being a felon in possession of a firearm and armed robbery, but the murder charges were dropped in a plea deal in February.
In March of 2016, Kenneth Patterson was found dead outside a home near Lake Wissota. According to courtroom testimony, Labrec and Jesse Lloyd, 22, approached Patterson with weapons because he owed them $60 from a drug deal. Labrec previously told investigators that Lloyd shot Patterson in the right leg. Labrec admitted he tried to shoot as well, but his gun would not fire.
Patterson's sister, Latiffanie Hogan, testified at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday. Hogan said there is more to the story that Labrec is not telling. She said Patterson often spoke of Labrec like he was a friend.
"Kenny and I were the only kids left on my mom's side, so now I'm all alone," Hogan said. "They could have helped him. It's not like they shot him in the chest or in the head. They could have put him in the car and helped him. That's the part that hurts. He was left outside by himself in the cold and bled out"
The day after Patterson's murder, Rebecca Millen gave birth to his son.
"I want there to be justice for my son who not is not going to have a father," Millen said. "He has a whole lifetime to be without his dad."
Labrec apologized to the court for his actions.
"I am so sorry. I really am," Labrec said. "I want the victims family and the community to know that I am putting all of my energy and efforts into changing. I'm sorry for the pain and sorrow I've caused directly and indirectly, but I am doing my part to bring about justice for everyone affected."
Labrec's family and his defense attorney, Matthew Krische, said Labrec had a hard upbringing with a mother who was addicted to meth, brothers who made him use drugs when he was four, and cases of sexual assault and abuse. Courtroom testimony said he has an extensive correctional history going back to when he was six-years-old. Krische said Labrec's formative years were spend bouncing from group home to group home.
"He hasn't even had a chance to grow up as a child," Labrec's father, Lyle Labrec, said. "He's been shoved around from place to place. That's why he's angry at the world."
Krische said the defense's per-sentence investigation showed Labrec has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD and borderline personality disorder. Krische said Labrec has been cutting and hurting himself to express his emotions, and has been having nightmares about what happened with Patterson. Labrec is currently undergoing dialectal behavioral therapy at the Columbia Correctional Institution where he is serving time for previous felony convictions. He also received his GED while serving time.
The prosecution asked Judge Cray for 20 years in prison. They said Labrec has had numerous opportunities for help, but has not accepted it. They added he's been kicked out of treatment facilities because of his behavior. The defense countered with a request for a lesser sentence with treatment for drug addiction and mental health. Krische asked for 6-8 years of initial confinement followed by 12-15 years of extended supervision.
"I don't believe Matthew Labrec is a person that we just throw away as a lost cause," Krische said. "At age 21, with intensive treatment, I think he can be salvaged."
Labrec's younger brother, Marshall Labrec, gave a tearful testimony for his brother.
"He can change," Marshall said. "I just don't want him to be gone the rest of my life. He has already been gone for half of it. I want to see my brother again, but not through glass."
When Judge Cray passed down the sentence, he said it was not out of anger.
"You've been broken for over 20 years," Cray told Labrec. "It is going to take that length of time to see what society can do to help you fix yourself."
Krische said he thought the sentence was harsh given Labrec's level of cooperation, but he understood why Judge Cray made the decision.
"I think it is tragic all around," Krische said. "I think it is a tragic set of circumstances that send this young man to this place. I think it is tragic Kenneth Patterson ended up losing his life over it. I hope that people can learn from this and he can come out as a better person."
Labrec's sentence is concurrent with one he is already serving. Judge Cray said Labrec could shorten his sentence if he successfully completes a number of programs, including one for substance abuse. Labrec will also have to cover the cost of Patterson's funeral and burial as well as court costs.
Lloyd was also charged in connection with Patterson's murder. His trial date is set for Jan. 23, 2018. Because of his plea deal, Labrec could be asked to testify against Lloyd.
Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - A suspect in a Chippewa County homicide was sentenced in court on Tuesday.
In Chippewa County court, Judge Cray sentenced Matthew Labrec to 20 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and armed robbery. A murder charge was dropped in February in return for his guilty pleas to the other charges.
Labrec was accused of playing a role in the shooting death of Kenneth Patterson in March 2016 after Patterson's body was found in the yard of a home near Lake Wissota. The other man police charged with Patterson's murder is Jesse Lloyd. His trial date has been set for January 23, 2018.
In court on Tuesday, Labrec spoke before the court room.
Matthew Labrec - "I am sorry for the pain and sorrow I caused. I want intensive treatment. I'm dedicated to a change." pic.twitter.com/RkOjXGgcLQ— Kaitlyn Riley (@kaitlyn_WQOW) May 2, 2017
Labrec's family also spoke:
Kenneth Patterson's sister gives tearful testimony in the sentencing hearing of Matthew Labrec. pic.twitter.com/uUc3n0UeS0— Kaitlyn Riley (@kaitlyn_WQOW) May 2, 2017
Matthew Labrec's younger brother. "I want to see my brother again without having it be through glass. I love you, Matthew." pic.twitter.com/bUEc2Stsnt— Kaitlyn Riley (@kaitlyn_WQOW) May 2, 2017
Patterson's family was present in court and spoke ahead of Labrec's sentencing.
The mother of Kenneth Patterson's child speak at the sentencing hearing of Matthew Labrec. "My son will never get to meet Kenneth." pic.twitter.com/xLUF2OHrI1— Kaitlyn Riley (@kaitlyn_WQOW) May 2, 2017
"I want justice for my son who will never have a father." - Mother of Kenneth Patterson's son in the sentencing hearing of Matthew Labrec.— Kaitlyn Riley (@kaitlyn_WQOW) May 2, 2017