Man sent to prison for terrorizing Milton family

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Frank Schultz
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

JANESVILLE -- A woman sobbed constantly Tuesday as she described how the father of two of her children terrorized her family at their Milton home in the early morning hours of March 7.

The man, Cesar Flores Hernandez, sat in jail orange, his face also awash in emotion -- sometimes bowing his head, sometimes covering his eyes with his hands -- during the two-hour sentencing hearing in Rock County Court.

The woman told how she and her children months later still have trouble sleeping and feel severe anxiety.

Flores Hernandez, 30, of 2405 Woodlane Drive, No. 3, Janesville, entered the residence while the family slept and fired a 9mm handgun into the bed, according to the criminal complaint.

He pressed the gun into the faces of the woman and two older sons, she said, causing burns on the lips of one of the young victims and to her.

“I remember the smoke smell and metal taste in my mouth,” she said.

She said he tried to put the gun in one of the children's hands and demanded that the child kill him, she said.

She fears how this will affect the rest of the 9-year-old's life.

The family got counseling for the flashbacks, bad memories and headaches afterward, although she had trouble paying the bills, she said.

She said she has lost weight and can't sleep as she struggles with her children's continued anguish and financial responsibilities.

The father of two of the children told the court he wants to protect his children, but he worries that after prison, Flores Hernandez will return to do them harm.

Flores Hernandez said he was on the verge of suicide that night because of hurtful things his girlfriend had said earlier in the day, Assistant District Attorney Mason Braunschweig said.

Flores Hernandez told the person who prepared the presentence report that he wishes he had hit the woman, which he said would have prevented the March 7 incident, Braunschweig said in unusually passionate comments.

Braunschweig said he has prosecuted many domestic-abuse cases, but he had never seen an abuser go to such lengths to paint himself as the victim.

“They're suffering,” Braunschweig said, pointing to the victims in the courtroom, “no one else.”

As part of a plea agreement, Flores Hernandez pleaded guilty to domestic-abuse charges of endangering safety by reckless use of a firearm, physical abuse of a child by use of a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of battery by use of a weapon. Eleven other charges encompassing the rest of his violent acts were dismissed but considered at sentencing.

Braunschweig had agreed not to recommend a sentence as part of the plea agreement. He agreed to avoid further suffering by the victims testifying at a trial, he said.

But Braunschweig pointed out to Judge Michael Haakenson a recent state Supreme Court ruling that opens the door to consecutive sentences for the crimes, amounting to a maximum eight years in prison plus eight years of extended supervision, even though the state Department of Corrections recommended concurrent sentences, which would mean a maximum five years in prison and five supervision.

Defense attorney Miguel Michel said Braunschweig violated the terms of the plea agreement by encouraging Haakenson to consider consecutive sentences.

Haakenson imposed concurrent sentences, amounting to five years in prison, plus the maximum 15 months in the county jail for the misdemeanor charge.

Haakenson also agreed to 266 days of sentence credit for the days Flores Hernandez has already been in jail.

Michel argued his client could not get the mental-health and anger-management treatment he needs in prison and said his client should get probation so that he could be treated locally.

Speaking through an interpreter, Flores Hernandez apologized and said he wants the children to know he still loves them.

Haakenson noted the mother believed alcohol and cocaine abuse contributed to Flores Hernandez' actions, and she told investigators he had threatened her with a gun before, and she feared he was obsessed with guns.

Haakenson said he would be downplaying the seriousness of the crimes if he did not impose a prison sentence.

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