Court Dismisses Superior Firebomber’s Appeal
A Wisconsin State Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal by a man accused of firebombing the Douglas County District Attorney’s house more than fifteen years ago.
42-year-old Harlan Schwartz was convicted in 2000 on two counts of arson and one count of possession of a fire bomb in connection to the firebombing of Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank’s home.
Schwartz was sentenced to 37 years behind bars.
Schwartz appealed to the court for a new sentence, saying he had new information and would assist in the prosecution of co-defendant Michael Tucker.
The prosecution rejected his offer to testify against Tucker, and he was never implicated in the crimes.
The Court of Appeals ruled that in this case, it does not constitute a new factor because Schwartz’s decision to cooperate in the prosecution of Tucker was not new.
The court stated that “By Schwartz’s own account, the facts he relies upon are identical to those that existed at the time of sentencing. His offer and the State’s rejection, resulting in no prosecution of Tucker, are unchanged.”
Schwartz has unsuccessfully appealed twice before, once in 2001 and once in 2006.
When Schwartz’s case went to trial, he and co-defendant Michael Teas went in with a coercion defense.
According to court documents, the men claimed they were in fear for their lives and the lives of their families based on threats by gang leader Alejandro Rivera.
Rivera was awaiting trial for murder at the time of the firebombing, with Blank prosecuting the case.
Rivera allegedly hired Schwartz and another man in an effort to force Blank to not go forward with the trial.
The duo were responsible for two separate fires at property owned by Blank. The first fire was set in December of 1999 to Blank’s garage. In February of 2000, the men firebombed Blank’s house, causing extensive damage.
Blank and his family were home, but escaped the fire uninjured.