A vicious killing in April 2014 was the first of what The Gazette later called a “summer of shootings.”
Thursday, a Janesville man charged as party to that murder was sentenced in Rock County Court to probation and jail time on a reduced charge.
A big part of the reasoning for the sentence is that Ronald L. Hicks, 32, whose address is now the Rock County Jail, gave a full statement about the shooting. Authorities also seem to doubt he was involved in killing Edward D. Haley, 37.
Hicks’ statement led to the conviction of co-defendant Laquann J. Kendall of Beloit on a charge of second-degree reckless homicide, attorneys said Thursday.
Kendall was sentenced Nov. 7 to 10 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.
Judge James Daley told Hicks his statement was likely the best thing Hicks has ever done for the community.
Hicks’ attorney, David Geier, said forensic evidence also showed it was likely only one person who fired the 12 shots that killed Haley.
Hicks has said he didn’t know a murder was planned when he got in one of two cars that traveled to the spot on Newark Road where the shooting happened in the early morning.
Hicks has said he was in the back seat doing a drug deal at the time of the shooting, Geier said.
The charge of party to murder was changed to delivery of marijuana. Hicks also was sentenced Thursday in a separate case for being a sex offender who failed to update his address.
Geier said the time Hicks already spent in prison on a sentence revocation has sent enough of a deterrent message.
Hicks had no criminal record from 2008 until the shooting, Geier said.
“I don’t think Mr. Hicks is the type of person (to) throw his life away,” Geier said.
Hicks apologized, saying he never wanted the shooting to happen and now wants to focus on his family.
“I made extra-bad decisions in my life. It’s time for me to stop placing blame and do better,” he said.
Daley’s sentence of jail plus three years of probation was less than that recommended by Assistant District Attorney Gwanny Tjoa: two years in prison, three years of supervision and two more years of probation.
Tjoa argued that Hicks’ performance on a previous probationary period was “pretty dismal”: He didn’t complete drug or sex offender treatment and stopped reporting to his probation agent.
Hicks is more likely to get correctional programming behind bars, Tjoa said.
Hicks also “minimizes” his criminal acts, including a long-ago sex assault of a 15-year-old, whom Hicks contends lied about her age, Tjoa said.
And Hicks has said he deals drugs to make a living and support his children, Tjoa said.
“The public needs to be protected from Mr. Hicks at this point,” Tjoa said.
But Tjoa and Daley agreed Hicks deserves credit for helping with the murder investigation.
Daley sentenced Hicks to two years in jail to start his probation, but because of time served and a get-out early provision if Hicks is successful with the jail’s rehabilitation program, he is likely to serve less than a year.
“I want to give you the opportunity to become the man you indicated you want to become,” Daley said.
Beloit, by the way, suffered from gun homicides for about two years after the summer of 2014.