Honestly, is this some kind of a sick joke? The guy that has been running around the state claiming to be tough on crime sat on a murder case for two years or more? Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice has revealed the details of a homicide case while Michael Gableman was Ashland County District Attorney. Although the homicide happened the same year he was appointed DA, the straight forward case was not prosecuted by Gableman at all and had to be taken up by his successor almost three years later.
The suspect was a man named John Wirner who admitted to shooting his wife in 1999. He claimed that the shooting was an accident but after the investigation and medical examiner’s report, it was pretty clear that it was a murder. Although Michael Gableman often touts how great he is at working with victims of crimes, the cousin of this victim didn’t seem to remember it that way.
“I was mad as hell,” Bauch said. “I was frustrated because the case simply went nowhere during the three years that he was district attorney.”
The Ashland County Sheriff that was elected in 2001 brought the case up to Gableman shortly after taking office. He says that it was a simple case that ‘even a hayseed like me could figure out.’ Unfortunately for the victim and her family, the sheriff said that nothing happened with the case until Gableman left. The Sheriff told Bice that after Gableman left the difference was like night and day and the suspect was finally charged with the murder.
Why would Gableman sit on a pretty clear cut murder case for so long and fail to ever prosecute it? Was he afraid to take on what would have been the biggest case of his entire career (before and since)? He was a brand new DA at the time, but he had the help of a clearly competent sheriffs department and medical examiner. The criminal complaint actually shows that he even had the help of the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department and a special investigator from the Department of Justice. Law enforcement was clearly supporting him but he simply failed to support them by prosecuting the case.
Was Gableman simply not expecting such serious cases way up there in Ashland County? After all, as I have reported before, he moved around having seven jobs in only nine years between law school and being appointed judge. During his very short time being an Assistant DA in Marathon County, he is even quoted in the local paper as being ‘surprised by the workload.’
Is Gableman’s fumbling of the biggest case of his entire career, the reason that he took a $20,000 pay cut to be an Administrative Law Judge? Was Gableman afraid to face the voters of Ashland County after sitting on such an important case for so long? Could this be why he was allowed to skip a close examination during his suspicious appointment as Burnett County Judge?