Family of the Madison mother of three who was killed Wednesday in what police believe was a targeted shooting in her Far East Side duplex said Friday they can’t believe anyone would have a reason to go after the woman they called “Sweet Pea.”
Julia S. Majette, 25, died of gunshot injuries, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday.
Family and friends described Majette and her husband, Daunte T. Vance, 34, who was wounded in the shooting, as loving parents to their three young children. Police have said at least two of the youngsters witnessed at least some of the shootings in their residence at 732 N. Thompson Drive.
“She was just one of those all around good, really sweet, caring people,” said Majette’s cousin, Sabrina Cherry, 20, of Milwaukee. “She didn’t deserve this.”
Cherry said her parents, Mark and Patricia Cherry, who lived with Majette and Vance, had gone to sleep early in their room in the basement of the residence on the rainy night.
“They heard someone come in the house and they heard gunshots. They heard the kids screaming,” Cherry said.
“My dad went upstairs first without thinking twice to actually find my cousin Julia and her husband,” she said.
Cherry said Vance, who was in the shower, was found in the bathroom, and Majette outside of the bathroom.
Madison police have not identified any suspects or a motive for the shootings, spokesman Joel DeSpain said Friday.
Police have said two men, at least one of them armed with a handgun, entered the duplex shortly before 8 p.m.
the couple’s children are staying with family.
Vance is hospitalized with numerous gunshot wounds, but his injuries are not considered life threatening, police said.
Police said Vance initially was not cooperating with investigators.
“He is speaking with our detectives and started to do so evidently (Thursday),” DeSpain said.
This isn’t the first time that Vance has been shot. On April 2, 2007, Vance was shot and critically injured, allegedly by a man with whom he had participated in a botched home invasion. Vance was charged with armed burglary and armed robbery for allegedly being part of a two-man team that robbed a home in the 1100 block of Wayridge Drive as a family was moving in, but those charges were later dismissed.
According to a criminal complaint, the family believed the robbers might have been looking for the previous tenant of the duplex, who had recently been sent to prison. A man was pistol-whipped and at least two gunshots were fired during the robbery.
The same night, Vance burst into a home on Highway MM in Fitchburg after he had been shot in the face. Another man came in after him, armed with a handgun, looking for Vance. Police later found Vance collapsed on the side of the road near the home.
A federal appeals court decision for Marcus Canady, the man Vance said shot him, said the government’s theory was that Canady shot Vance in a disagreement about drugs.
In April 2009, Vance was sentenced to three years in prison in Illinois after pleading guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon for an incident in 2006.
Court records show Vance had been arrested multiple times since 1996. In 1998, he was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and was sentenced to seven years’ probation and 11 months in jail.
At the time of Wednesday’s shooting, Vance was wanted on an arrest warrant out of Waukesha County Circuit Court for failure to appear on misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing an officer and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Simone Lawrence said she and Majette were best friends since the third grade, when Majette moved from New Jersey to Madison.
Lawrence said Majette worked at an assisted living facility, taking care of dementia patients and people who needed assistance with daily activities.
She said Vance cared for the couple’s children — ages 2, 5 and 6 — while Majette worked.
“He took really good care of his kids,” Lawrence said. “She worked a lot to make sure the bills were paid and everything was taken care of.”
“I can’t even put into words what the loss of Sweet Pea means for our family,” Cherry said. “It just feels like everybody lost a piece of themselves. Your heart just breaks. Nothing will ever be the same again. There will always be that missing piece.”