FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A jury in Wisconsin has convicted a man accused of intentionally targeting a motorcyclist in a fatal crash because of the victim’s race, in a two-phase trial that will eventually determine the defendant’s mental state at the time.
Daniel Navarro, a 27-year-old Mexican American from Fond du Lac, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree intentional homicide as a hate crime in the July 3, 2020 crash that killed Phillip Thiessen, who was white, in Fond du Lac County.
He was also convicted of first-degree recklessly endangering safety as a hate crime.
Thiessen, 55, was a retired special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and a former police officer.
Because Navarro pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, his trial moves to the next phase to determine his mental state at the time of the fatal crash. That will help determine whether he is sentenced to prison or a mental health facility.
Prosecutors say Navarro struck Thiessen’s motorcycle head-on in the town of Taycheedah near Fond du Lac, about 67 miles (108 kilometers) north of Milwaukee. Authorities said Navarro didn’t know Thiessen.
Navarro told investigators he had been harassed by co-workers and neighbors, and poisoned, drugged and verbally attacked by white people because of his race, officials said.
During an interview at the sheriff’s office, Navarro said he wanted to go to prison for the rest of his life so he could be free from his neighbors, who he could hear making racist comments through the walls of his house, according to a criminal complaint.