By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — A Berlin man was sentenced to 22 years and nine months imprisonment for the January armed robbery and assault of a Seneca man.
According to police reports, on Jan. 31, officers were sent out to a residence regarding reports of an armed robbery and assault of a Seneca resident. The man was found with his hands restrained behind his back with a black electrical cord, and noted that his face was swollen, bruised, and contained multiple abrasions.
Four days later, 23-year-old Emilio Velez Ortiz and 44-year-old Berlin native Kendrick Gatlin were apprehended in suspicion of the crime. The two were found in the Milwaukee area.
According to District Attorney Craig Lambert, Gatlin should receive a 35-year sentence, 20 of which would be served in prison with 15 in extended supervision, citing eight separate stints in prison. Lambert asked Judge Todd Wolf to follow suit in efforts to protect the community.
“Life is a series of choices, and this choice really shouldn’t have been anymore clear,” said Lambert. “Either I beat somebody up, tie them up, and steal their stuff — or I don’t. It’s that stark; it’s that easy. You either make that choice or you don’t make that choice.”
Gatlin’s attorney, Jessica Phelps, cited a justice system that has worked against Gatlin as reasons for a reduced sentence, and asked judge Wolf for 10 years, 7 of which would be served on extended supervision. According to Phelps, Gatlin got into trouble with the law as early as 15-years-old, and wasn’t given the necessary support, especially with the death of his father. Gatlin was put in the Ethan Allen Reform School, which closed in 2011.
“At a point in Kendrick’s life where the system should have offered him help, guidance, mentorship, counseling, education — he was thrust into the Ethan Allen school for boys,” said Phelps. “During those formative years of Kendrick’s life he was institutionalized. What we understand today is when you take a young person of medium-risk, and put them with high-risk youth, you’re going to create another high-risk youth.”
Judge Wolf ultimately expressed his responsibility to protect the community, and brought up Gatlin’s past charges of battery, multiple burglaries, obstructing an officer, and property crimes as reasons to stray away from a minimum sentence.
In total, Gatlin was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison, with an additional 10 years of extended supervision for counts of armed robbery and false imprisonment. This includes charges of theft and battery.