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Judge hands down 30-year sentence for teen shooter

The man who fatally shot Garth Velin last September will spend the next 24 years in prison. Chance William Andrews, 18, pleaded guilty June 9 in Douglas County Circuit Court to felony murder for shooting Velin twice in the chest during a botched ...

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Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Chance Andrews, center, exits the courtroom after being sentenced for the murder of Garth Velin in the Douglas County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.

The man who fatally shot Garth Velin last September will spend the next 24 years in prison.

Chance William Andrews, 18, pleaded guilty June 9 in Douglas County Circuit Court to felony murder for shooting Velin twice in the chest during a botched robbery attempt at Velin’s home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood.

At the time, District Attorney Dan Blank offered a recommended sentence of 17½ years in prison, striking another year off when Chance provided information that led to finding the murder weapon. Blank reiterated that recommendation during Thursday’s sentencing hearing before Circuit Court Judge George Glonek.

Velin’s parents, however, asked for the maximum penalty.

"Send the message that Garth matters, because he does," his mother, Deborah, told the court.

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The family’s life has been drenched in grief.

"When the police chief comes to your house and tells you your son was murdered, your heart stops," Velin said. "When it starts beating again, nothing’s the same … your kid died and he took you with him."

She’ll never get to see him get the promotion he was working more than 60 hours a week for, never dance at his wedding, never hold his children in her arms.

And she never got to say goodbye.

"I have so much left to say to him, it gets hard to breathe," Velin said.

She told the judge there was no doubt in her mind that Andrews would do this again. A risk assessment by the Department of Corrections concurred, finding there was a high risk he would re-offend, and do so violently.

Defense Attorney Ken Kratz pointed out this is Andrews’ first adult conviction. He does have a substantial juvenile history - 52 run-ins with law enforcement since age 11, including adjudications for possession of a sawed-off shotgun and an incident where he stole a car and led police on a high-speed chase before crashing it into a tree. Andrews has also had dozens of jail violations since he was taken into custody, including battering another prisoner with a broom handle and having a shank in his cell block.

The 18-year-old told the court that he was remorseful and sorry for his actions.

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"I apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Velin for what I put them through," Andrews said. He said he would take every opportunity afforded to better himself while incarcerated.

"I take responsibility for my actions; it’s my responsibility to change my life as well," Andrews said.

Glonek said the case was tragic, violent and senseless. The words that came to mind when considering Andrews’ character, the judge said, were "Dangerous, thug, murderer and evil."

"It’s clear Mr. Andrews has a fascination with guns, weapons and violence," Glonek said, as well as a significant juvenile history, and deserves a lengthy prison sentence to protect the public.

"Plea negotiations are part of the system," the judge said, but "It’s not my job as an elected official to sit here and rubber stamp" recommendations.

When he ordered a 30-year sentence for the murder charge, 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision, the packed courtroom broke into applause. A few had to be escorted out.

Andrews pleaded no contest on July 15 in Douglas County Circuit Court to threats to injure and battery by prisoner stemming from two separate incidents. Glonek ordered a six year sentence - three years of in confinement and three years of extended supervision - for the threats charge and a four year sentence - two years of initial confinement and two years of extended supervision - for the battery incident. All of the sentences run consecutively. That adds up to 25 years in prison and another 15 years on probation, minus the 352 days Andrews has been in custody at the Douglas County Jail.

"I thought it sent the good strong message we were hoping he would send," Blank said after the sentencing.

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Any impact the sentence will have on the cases of Andrews’ co-defendants remains to be seen. Next week’s sentencing of Kane Michael Robinson, 21, could offer another standard from the judge. A jury found Robinson guilty June 25 of party to murder following a three-day trial.

We’ll see what happens next week and then, as you know, we still have three co-defendants left," Blank said. "And they will start to get a feel of what consequences are likely to be depending on level of guilt. Maybe that will open some negotiations."

The other three also face charges of party to murder.

A status conference for Robinson’s brother, Dallas Eugene Robinson, 19, takes place prior to his sentencing Wednesday. Teah Phillips, 18, is scheduled to go to trial next month and the trial date for Kyham Lavon Dunn, 21, has been set for January.

Related Topics: CRIMESUPERIORDOUGLAS COUNTY
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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