Last week, supporters and family members of Quadren Wilson packed a courtroom in a preliminary hearing to determine whether a case against him would move forward.
Wilson was shot five times in the back last month by two agents with the Department of Criminal Investigations, and arrested. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the shooting.
The complaint charges Wilson with federal drug charges.
The complaint alleges that, in April of 2021, two people met at a McDonalds with the intention of purchasing heroin. They used a landline phone within the McDonalds to call a phone number multiple times. After this, they say that an unidentified woman got into a black car, where she purchased heroin that was laced with fentanyl – drugs that allegedly led to an overdose death in the McDonald’s bathroom.
The woman, identified only as SLB in the complaint and proceedings, told detectives that she did not know the name or identity of the man who sold her the drugs.
The prosecuting attorney says that they then talked with the woman, and using the phone number that she called with the McDonald’s phone, determined that Wilson had been the person who sold the pair drugs.
The hearing began with Wilson’s attorney, Stephen Eisenberg, calling for the case to be dismissed for lack of evidence.
“Are we really going to find probable cause? I have to say, how many black cars are out there, how many light skinned Black males are out there… The police waited 10 months to charge this, or the DAs office I should say. Let them go back to the drawing board if they can come up with sufficient evidence to establish probable cause. I think this complaint should be dismissed, I don’t think we can find probable cause based on the limited information in this complaint, and the speculation, and the speculative inferences that the state is going to ask you to make,” Eisenberg says.
Eisenberg brought up multiple points during his request for dismissal, saying the vague description of the person who sold the woman the drugs and the lack of definitive evidence that Wilson was associated with the phone number was not enough evidence to move the case forward.
A significant part of the proceedings centered on an unlikely piece of evidence: Wilson’s facial hair.
The woman says that they had bought the heroin from quote “a very light skinned black male with green or hazel eyes, and some facial hair including a mustache, but not enough for a beard.”
Eisenberg says that this description is too broad to prove that it was Wilson, and moreover, Wilson has a beard.
Eisenberg showed an Instagram picture during the hearing that was posted on the day after the incident at the McDonalds took place. The picture shows Wilson with a full beard at least two to three inches in length.
In his written request for the case to be dismissed, Eisenberg said that deciding that someone committed a crime due to them being described as a quote “light skinned black male,” end quote, sets a dangerous precedent.
“…so then I go back to the summit description of a light-brown skinned male with green eyes, 240 lbs, 5’10”, and SLB’s description of a very light skinned Black male with green or hazel eyes, 6’ 250 lbs with some facial hair, a mustache but not enough for a beard. And then we have exhibit one, which clearly shows a beard. And that is really troubling to me,” Eisenberg says.
Additionally, Eisenberg says that the described vehicle is not enough proof that Wilson was the person to deliver the heroin.
The court commissioner decided that there was enough evidence for the case to move forward, although he stated that the bar for evidence is significantly lower for a preliminary hearing. He said that some evidence that is acceptable in a preliminary hearing would not be in a full trial.
“The defense has every right to question the plausibility of the statements made by SLB, and the holes in the testimony attributed to her, which are very significant, including what appears to be not a very accurate description, and some other things which include her state, which may not have been such that she’s a reliable witness. The credibility of witnesses, however, is not the issue at a preliminary hearing. The state’s entitled to rest on whatever statements that are made, as long as it’s plausible,” Commissioner Scott McAndrews says.
During the hearing, Detective Leslie Keith with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office gave testimony as to how she came to the conclusion that Wilson was the person who sold the woman heroin.
As Eisenberg was questioning Keith, he asked several questions regarding whether the unidentified woman had ever seen a picture of Wilson. After his questions were repeatedly overruled, audience members – including some members of Wilson’s family – voiced their frustration and stormed out of the courtroom.
An arraignment is scheduled for April 5.
Additional audio was provided by News 3 Now.
Photo courtesy: Nate Wegehaupt / WORT News Team