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Veteran who injured cop given second chance in Treatment Court

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Darryl Enriquez
March 5, 2011
— A military veteran who hurt a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy during his arrest for excessive drinking has been referred to the Rock County Veterans Treatment Court, the first program of its kind in Wisconsin to help veterans who commit crimes.

Phillip T. Cantwell, 25, of Kenosha, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Walworth County Court to felony battery of a police officer, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse and obstructing.


In exchange for the guilty pleas, Walworth County Judge Robert Kennedy allowed Cantwell to enter Rock County Veterans Treatment Court.


Cantwell is the first defendant referred from Walworth County Court to the Rock County program. Defendants in veterans court must admit to the accusations. The charges could be reduced or dismissed if they overcome their problems and successfully complete the program.


To be eligible, veterans must suffer from alcohol or drug abuse, mental-health problems or post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in combat.


The goal is to prevent veterans from becoming repeat offenders. Veterans who fail the program are sentenced.


According to a criminal complaint, Cantwell on Dec. 26 screamed profanities at law enforcement personnel, claimed he was a warrior with a Purple Heart medal and kicked sheriff's Deputy Jennifer Schmidt in her right thigh as she was putting him into the back seat of a squad car.


While in the squad, Cantwell kicked the backseat and banged his head.


The program has 10 other veterans. Rock County Judge James Daley, a Vietnam War veteran, started it in September 2009. Other programs are in place or planned for La Crosse, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Waupaca and Juneau counties.



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