Will Judge Witkowiak And The Rest Now Change Their Ways?
Yesterday, it took a Milwaukee County jury less than three hours to find Latin Kings gangbanger Miguel Ayala guilty of robbing then killing Miller Brewing Co. executive Vic Milford. When Ayala is sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner on July 23, my guess is that he'll be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Warehousing a menace like Ayala is clearly the right thing to do. What should not be lost in this case though is that Ayala probably shouldn't have been in a position to commit this crime in the first place.
As I wrote a few months ago, Judge Timothy Witkowiak had a chance to send Ayala to prison back in late 2006 but decided against it. In that case Ayala, "wearing Latin King gang colors" fled from police and was eventually caught and found to be in possession of controlled substances. Judge Witkowiak eschewed a prison sentence in favor of a term of probation. Probation!
Ayala's felony drug conviction in 2006 came after a multitude of other convictions for serious criminal behavior - none of which led to any significant punishment. Given the lack of consequences for all his prior criminal conduct, it's no wonder that Ayala was walking the streets in January looking for still more victims to prey upon. Can you say "hug-a-thug"?
I'm very glad that Vic Milford's murderer has been brought to justice. I'm also very glad that Miquel Ayala will probably not ever be in a position to kill again. Still, this is undoubtedly of small comfort to the family and friends of Mr. Milford.
I've said it before and, unfortunately, I'll probably have to say it again. The next time Judge Witkowiak or any of his colleagues considers putting some young gangster with a track record for violence back on the streets, perhaps they should remember the case of Miguel Ayala. More importantly, perhaps they should remember Vic Milford!