A Chippewa County judge on Friday denied a request for a jury trial from a co-defendant in the 2016 Eagle Point shooting death of Kenneth Patterson.
Matthew Labrec, 22, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for his role in the slaying, claims he suffered from mental illnesses and that his lawyer did not tell him he could face a 20-year sentence in the case.
Labrec will not be able to withdraw his earlier plea — he pleaded guilty to two felonies, armed robbery-use of force and owning a firearm as a felon — and will not be able to make his case to a jury.
In a hearing Friday, Labrec said if his attorney, Matthew Krische, had given him more detail about his sentencing, he would have asked for a jury trial.
“I didn’t get a chance to discuss it with my family,” Labrec said Friday, referring to his plea deal. “I really just agreed because I was scared to get life in prison.”
Krische did not warn him of the possibility of a 20-year sentence, Labrec said, but instead told Labrec he would probably receive 10 years in prison, possibly 15.
Assistant district attorney Roy La Barton Gay disagreed: “An attorney’s inaccurate prediction of what the sentence imposed will be is not a basis for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel,” he wrote in a court document.
Krische did not use Labrec’s mental illnesses as a potential defense, Labrec also said.
Labrec claims to have suffered from “visual and auditory hallucinations” during the crime and was suicidal immediately before his arrest, climbing onto a roof and threatening to jump off, according to a court document.
Krische testified at Friday’s hearing. He didn’t notice signs that Labrec was incompetent during Labrec’s case, he said, and accessed Labrec’s past mental health records.
Labrec was high on methamphetamine when Patterson was fatally shot, Krische said.
Labrec denied it.
“Not that day,” he said. “After the crime, not before … about an hour (after), I got high sitting in a car in some random driveway just outside of Lake Wissota.”
His methamphetamine supply ran out about a day later, roughly 24 hours before he was arrested, Labrec said.
Labrec, defending his request for a new trial, also said he didn’t rob Patterson — despite pleading guilty to armed robbery.
“I wouldn’t have left $325 in his pocket if I did (want to rob him),” Labrec said.
Krische investigated Labrec’s mental health and did not decide the 22-year-old was incompetent. “I thought he did a thorough job,” Judge Steven Cray said Friday.
“I know (Labrec) isn’t satisfied with my decision, but I think he understood … that I could have given maximums,” Cray said. “I didn’t do that, but I gave him a harsher sentence than he was anticipating.”
There was no “serious flaw” in Labrec’s case, Cray said, and Labrec will not get a jury trial.
Labrec will also have to cooperate with prosecutors in the October homicide trial of Jesse R. Lloyd, 23. Lloyd has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Patterson’s death.
A passerby found Patterson’s body in the front yard of a residence at 162nd Street and 83rd Avenue on March 14, 2016, according to a criminal complaint.
Lloyd and Labrec reportedly intended to rob Patterson, while Patterson thought the two men were going to deliver drugs to him.
When Patterson was by a bush near the southeast corner of a deck, Labrec pulled out a rifle and held it in front of him.
“(Labrec) said he then heard Jesse shoot. Matthew remembers Patterson stumbling and falling into something after being shot,” the complaint said.
A bullet from a handgun entered Patterson’s right thigh and exited two inches lower than the entry wound. Patterson was able to run away from his attackers, but later died.
Lloyd’s trial is slated to begin Oct. 2.