An Iraq War combat veteran who broke into three Madison homes during a 15-hour period in January will be enrolled in a Rock County court program for veterans after pleading guilty Thursday to the break-ins and other crimes.
The unusual disposition, which happened on Veterans Day, will allow David L. Carlson, 26, of Rice Lake, to get treatment for alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder at an inpatient Veterans Administration facility in Milwaukee.
If he successfully completes the treatment, and everything else required by the Rock County Veterans Court, four felony charges against Carlson will be dismissed and he would serve three years of probation for five misdemeanor convictions, under a plea agreement approved Thursday by Dane County Circuit Judge Sarah O'Brien.
Carlson, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard during two tours in Iraq, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a Jan. 1 incident with a cab driver and three home break-ins on Madison's West Side on Jan. 7. He also pleaded guilty to bail jumping.
Carlson's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender John Tradewell, said that Carlson showed signs of PTSD when he returned home from his first tour of Iraq, but still went back for a second tour.
Rock County started its veterans court last year, modeled after a similar court in Buffalo, N.Y. Circuit Judge James Daley, a Vietnam veteran, runs the court. The court connects veterans with legal troubles that may be related to their military experience to veterans services and mentors who themselves are vets.
"They hold a pretty tight rein on the clients who participate," Tradewell said.
Tradewell said Daley has been very willing to accept transfers of cases from other counties, like Dane County, that don't have a veterans court.
"Mr. Carlson has a chance to earn himself back into society," Tradewell said. "We're happy that the court gets him the chance to recalibrate."
If Carlson fails to complete the vets court program, though, he would go back to O'Brien to be sentenced.