Andrew Churchwell faces federal charge in June 9 Janesville incident

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, July 17, 2014

MADISON—A former Janesville man accused of assaulting his mother and then crashing his car in a cornfield June 9 now faces a charge in federal court.

Andrew S. Churchwell, 31, of 2330 Lathers Road., Beloit, was arrested Wednesday on an  indictment by a federal grand jury charging him with being a felon in possession of ammunition. 

Wisconsin law forbids felons to possess firearms but does not bar them from possessing ammunition, said Scott Dirks, an assistant district attorney in Rock County, who is prosecuting related local charges.

Federal law does forbid felons from possessing ammunition.

According to a Rock County criminal complaint, Churchwell's car rolled over several times, leaving a trail of debris that included a box of .45-caliber ammunition, two .45-caliber magazines for a handgun, 275 loose rounds of .45-caliber ammunition and a loaded magazine of 7.62x39 mm ammunition, which is used in the AK-47 assault weapon and other rifles.

During the assault, Churchwell had shown his mother a handgun and said if she called police, he would shoot himself, according to the complaint.

A .45-caliber handgun was later found at the house, along with a sword, several knives, a machete, a crossbow and two pellet guns, according to the complaint.

When he was 10, Churchwell used a shotgun to kill his father, David C. Churchwell, 45.

At the time, Churchwell was the youngest person ever accused of homicide in Rock County. He was too young under the laws then to be waived into adult court and too young to be found delinquent. Instead, the court ruled he was a child in need of protective services.

Partly because of Churchwell's case, state statutes were changed, allowing children as young as 10 to be charged as adults in murder cases.

Churchwell lived in group homes for several years after the 1994 murder, but he returned to live with his mother in Janesville in 1998, according to Gazette files.

Churchwell in 2005 pleaded guilty to stalking the mother of his children, according to Gazette files.

On June 9, Churchwell had fled the Janesville house where he had lived with his mother and crashed on County A just west of Janesville, according to the criminal complaint.

Churchwell made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison on Thursday.  He was held pending a full detention hearing, scheduled for July 22. His trial is scheduled for Nov, 3.

Churchwell faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Churchwell is charged in Rock County with aggravated battery; possession of firearm by a felon, as a repeater; and possession of marijuana, second or subsequent offense.

Churchwell is free on a $1,250 cash bond. His next court appearance on the local charges is Aug. 27.

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