Target 2 Investigates the cost of justice as murder case delayed again

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - It appeared closure was coming in a Brown County homicide case dating back to 2015. In January, Antwon Powell agreed to take an Alford Plea--a move in which he would maintain his innocence, but admit that there's evidence in which a jury could find him guilty.

Powell, however, has changed his mind and is trying to withdraw the plea. That's likely to add time on a case that's been in the system for three-and-a-half-years.

The crime dates back to Dec. 3, 2015. Victim David Shorter broke into Antwon Powell's home and stole $400 and a quarter-pound of high grade marijuana, according to prosecutors. Late that night, Shorter, 32, was shot outside his duplex in the 800 block of Bellevue Street. Shorter crawled back into his home, and died later at the hospital.

Officers arrested Antwon Powell the next day.


Powell was charged in the death of David Shorter on Jan. 27, 2016.

On June 28, 2019, Powell made what would be his 32nd appearance before a judge, court records show.

Complex cases take time. The court must guarantee all rights to defendants and victims.

Powell has been through five attorneys. Some were fired. Others withdrew from the case.

The defense has asked for adjournments and rescheduled trials.

The case was about to move to trial in January. That's when Antwon Powell decided to take the Alford Plea.

Three days before a sentencing recommendation was due, Powell asked to withdraw his plea.

Powell and his attorney parted ways.

"And now we find ourselves here, on the 28th of June, and Mr. Powell still doesn't have counsel," Hon. John Zakowski told the circuit court.

The court is now appointing an attorney to represent Powell.

"I have to get somebody on board for Mr. Powell. This is a victim-based crime. It's a serious crime," Judge Zakowski said.


Target 2 Investigates went digging to find how much the delays in this case cost taxpayers.

There's an impact, but it's hard to put a number on things like time on the court's docket or space at jail with overcrowding concerns.

Transports are tough to calculate because it is part of the judicial system and a person's right to appear in court.

We can, however, put a number on housing.

Powell was arrested the day after the shooting of David Shorter. Powell has spent nearly 500 days at the Brown County Jail and about 800 days in state prison. He spent time there for a probation violation on prior drug charges.

If you average 500 days at $55/day, you get $27,500 for jail housing costs.

If you average 806 days at $89/day, you get $71,734 for prison housing costs.

That adds up to $99,234.

Powell's next court hearing is scheduled for July 8. Target 2 Investigates will continue to follow this developing story.