2013 - 2014 LEGISLATURE
August 7, 2013 - Introduced by Senators Grothman,
L. Taylor and Hansen,
cosponsored by Representatives
Kooyenga, Spiros, Barnes, Sinicki,
Knudson, Kessler, Hebl, Ohnstad, Goyke, Hintz, Pope, Murphy, Bies, T.
Larson, Brooks and Bernier. Referred to Joint Committee on Finance.
1An Act relating to: an expenditure of $90,000 from the general fund for payment
2of a claim against the state made by Robert Lee Stinson.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill directs expenditure of $90,000 from the general fund in payment of a
claim made by Robert Lee Stinson against the state. In November 1984, the body of
Ione Cychosz was found in the city of Milwaukee. Ms. Cychosz was beaten to death
and there were numerous bite marks on her body. In December 1985, the claimant
was tried and convicted of her murder. There were no witnesses against him, and
the only physical evidence was expert witness testimony purporting to match the
claimant's dentition with the bite marks on the victim's body. The bite marks did not
match because the claimant was missing a tooth, and the bite marks showed the
perpetrator did not have that tooth missing, but the claimant's attorney failed to
raise that issue. The claimant was sentenced to life imprisonment. After his
conviction, the claimant obtained a reexamination of the bite mark evidence using
more modern odontological techniques that excluded the claimant as the
perpetrator. The state crime laboratory examined samples of the blood and saliva
found on the victim's clothing and conclusively excluded the claimant as the source
of the samples. The claimant asserted that at the time of the crime he was at a party,
which was corroborated by five other persons. In January 2009, the circuit court for
Milwaukee County vacated the claimant's conviction and sentence. In July 2009, the
state dismissed all charges against the claimant. In July 2009, the DNA of another
man, Moses Price, was matched to the crime scene and Mr. Price confessed to the
crime. The claimant claimed $5,000 per year for 23 years of wrongful imprisonment
plus $14,000 in attorney fees on behalf of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which
provided assistance to the claimant (total $129,000).
Under section 775.05 of the statutes the Claims Board may award
compensation to a person who is imprisoned for a crime of which he or she is innocent
if the board finds that the evidence is clear and convincing, that the person is
innocent, and that the person did not by his or her act or failure to act contribute to
bring about the conviction for which he or she seeks compensation. The amount
awarded by the board may not exceed a total of $25,000, nor may an award be based
upon a rate of compensation exceeding $5,000 per year. Compensation awarded by
the board must include any amount to which the board finds that the claimant is
entitled for attorney fees, costs, and disbursements. Under the law, if the board finds
that the amount it is able to award is not adequate, it must recommend an adequate
amount to the legislature.
On December 27, 2010, the claims board awarded compensation to the claimant
in the amount of $25,000, which was paid to the claimant on January 4, 2011. In
addition, the board recommended that the claimant be paid an additional $90,000
for wrongful imprisonment (total $115,000). See 2011 Senate Journal, pp. 24-25.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
Claim against the state. (1)
There is directed to be expended 2
from the appropriation under section 20.505 (4) (d) of the statutes, as affected by the 3
acts of 2011 and 2013, $90,000 in payment of a claim against the state made by 4
Robert Lee Stinson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to compensate the claimant for wrongful 5
imprisonment during the period from 1985 to 2009 as a result of his conviction on a 6
charge of first degree intentional homicide of which he was innocent. Acceptance of 7
this payment, together with all other compensation received by the claimant from 8
the claims board, releases this state and its state officers, employees, and agents 9
from any further liability in connection with the arrest, conviction, and 10
imprisonment of the claimant during the above period.