A La Crosse man admitted Monday that he was the gunman in a 2017 shooting on La Crosse’s South Side.
Damon Taylor, 35, entered an Alford plea in La Crosse County Circuit Court to attempted first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and failure to comply with an officer’s attempt to take a person into custody, all as a repeat offender.
The plea means he admitted no wrongdoing but conceded a jury likely would convict him.
Attorneys on Monday picked a jury for his trial, which was slated to begin Tuesday. He faces more than 50 years in prison during his sentencing on April 18.
At 5:38 p.m. April 5, the La Crosse Police Department’s tactical team was preparing to search Ontario Lowery’s apartment at 2612 S. 17th St. for Taylor, who was wanted on a probation warrant, when investigators watching the building saw Jon-Lazaire Burch and Trevongh Martin arrive, according to police reports.
Taylor shot Burch in the calf, and Martin returned fire, according to police reports. Martin, arrested after a short foot pursuit, told police they went to the house to buy marijuana. Burch said they were there to collect $1,000 from Lowery.
Burch was treated at Gundersen Health System.
Police tried for seven hours to coax Taylor from the residence until they found him hiding in a bathtub and arrested him without incident. He had meth in his possession and officers found a loaded stolen gun hidden behind the oven.
Taylor told police “dudes” shot at him and that it could have been Lowery who returned fire, according to reports. Prosecutors dismissed an attempted homicide charge as party to the crime against Lowery because they couldn’t prove he knew Taylor planning a shooting.
At the time of his arrest, Taylor was serving three years on probation for having heroin while on federal supervision for the illegal purchase of a firearm.
His criminal record in Wisconsin spans 19 years and includes convictions for felon in possession of a firearm and fleeing police.
Martin, 22, of Mount Horeb, was sentenced last week to one year in prison and one year on extended supervision after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm as a repeat offender. He is serving the sentence alongside a 6½-year prison term imposed in November after his probation was revoked in an armed robbery case in Dane County.