Navarro, guilty of killing motorcyclist in a hate crime, gets mental commitment instead of prison

A jury found Daniel Navarro wasn't mentally capable of knowing right from wrong when he intentionally killed a motorcyclist.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 2:47 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2022 at 6:51 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The jury that found Daniel Navarro guilty of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide for killing a motorcyclist has decided he should be committed for mental health treatment instead of prison.

In the first phase of the trial, the jury found Navarro guilty of homicide as a hate crime by use of a dangerous weapon. In the second phase, the jury found him not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

The jury decided while he was guilty of the crime, his mental health issues prevented him from knowing right from wrong, and therefore he couldn’t stop himself from committing the crime.

Navarro will be committed to the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services instead of prison.

Their decision came after two doctors testified that Navarro is a schizophrenic who is delusional. They said at the time of the crime he was psychotic and didn’t understand the consequences of his actions.

“He was out of touch with reality,” Dr. Deborah Collins, a forensic psychologist, testified. “He really didn’t rationally appreciate the wrongfulness of what it was he was doing.”

Two years ago, Navarro intentionally swerved into a motorcyclist on Winnebago Drive, killing Phillip Thiessen. In a recorded interview with investigators, Navarro said he believed white men were poisoning him and stalking him because he’s Mexican. Navarro stated that he decided to kill Thiessen because he believed Harley-Davidson riders to be white men and that would send a message to the men he believed to be poisoning him.

Thiessen, who was from Fond du Lac, was a Marine and former police officer. He worked for the Wisconsin Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children unit before retiring.

The victim’s daughter expressed concern to the court should Navarro ever be eligible for a conditional release.

“I cannot fathom an option where Mr. Navarro is not institutionalized for the rest of his life considering the severity of what happened, considering the blatant disregard for anyone else’s life, and considering that we have not established that he does not understand the severity of what he is doing and could not conform his actions to the law. I would find it extremely hard to believe that it will ever get better,” Maeghan Greeno, Thiessen’s daughter, said.

The judge could have allowed outpatient treatment but said Navarro should be institutionalized for life.

“According to Dr. Collins, Mr. Navarro will undoubtedly require years of inpatient psychiatric treatment, with goals of mediation of symptoms of mental illness, violence risk management, mitigation and psychiatric stabilization,” Judge Andrew Christenson said. “And Dr. Robbins was of the opinion Mr. Navarro can only be safely treated at an inpatient facility. Given all of this, the commitment period will be for life, I order institutional care.”

Navarro has the right to petition the court for a conditional release every six months.

“The defendant in any circumstance will have an opportunity to petition for what’s called conditional release. That could come back before the court at a later day. But given some of the factors and circumstances that we saw throughout this trial and in the reports, I would expect an incredibly lengthy amount of time, if not the rest of defendant’s life. But I can’t predict the future,” District Attorney Eric Toney said.

Navarro addressed the court after Thursday’s verdict, rambling at times about himself. He did say he was truly sorry for what happened.

After finding him guilty of killing a motorcyclist in a hate crime, Daniel Navarro's jury says he wasn't capable of knowing right from wrong

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