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Court sentences James Malone in illegal drag racing deaths of two young men

Devante Gaines and Jerrold Wellinger
Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 18:26:24-04

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee County judge on Friday handed down a sentence to James E. Malone that will send him to prison for 14 years for killing two young men during a drag race.

In May, the court convicted Malone of two counts of second degree reckless homicide. Judge J.D. Watts sentenced him to 21 years for each count.

Each sentence is 14 years in prison and seven years supervised release. Citing good character, Judge J.D. Watts ruled the sentences to run concurrently, meaning Malone will spend 14 years locked up.

On Aug. 7, 2021, Malone and another man, James Hinton, were racing at speeds in excess of 100 mph when Malone struck another car, according to the court.

Inside were Jerrold Wellinger and Devante Gaines, both just 22 years old. They were driving home from the convenience store. Wellinger and Gaines died at the scene near 60th and Hampton.

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Judge Watts said that seconds before the collision, Malone's 2018 Dodge Charger had reached a speed of 123 mph.

Ahead of the decision, TMJ4 News spoke with Jerrold Wellinger's family.

"Very sad, very anxious, and also very happy that this has finally come, and we can finally get justice for Jerrold," said Wellinger's mother, Julie Wellinger.

Julie Wellinger later addressed the court.

"My son will never be able to see his nieces grow up, and never get to meet his new nephew that will be born soon," she said. "We will not be able to celebrate birthdays or any holiday with him due to Mr. Malone's reckless decision that day. Please your honor, he needs to be punished. And one more thing, Mr. Malone, may God have mercy on your soul."

Malone also addressed the court.

"I just want the family to listen to me, but I know it's going to be hard for them to accept my apology. But I truly am sorry for their loss," said Malone.

Watt's decision isn't hard enough, the families believe.

"My brother was 22, Devante was 22," Wellinger's sister, Mariah Johnson, said. "The man didn't even get that amount of years. The short amount of time that my brother was alive, that man will be out before that, in a blink of an eye."

"His family was upset and crying, but they can call him later," Gaine's aunt, Shaquila Sandlin, said. "They can see him tomorrow. We have to go through life not knowing what their life would've been like, because him and the other guy decides to be reckless."

On Aug. 7, the first anniversary of the friends' deaths, Mt. Lebanon Church is hosting a Reckless Driving Neighborhood Walk in memory of Wellinger and Gaines.

Mt. Lebanon Church sits at the corner of 60th and Hampton where the men were killed. Both families will be present and encourage anyone from the community to attend.

The reckless driving resource fair begins at 1:30 p.m. The walk begins at 3:00 p.m.

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