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Ward sentenced to life in prison for killing Racine police officer John Hetland

Posted at 3:40 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 23:22:59-05

RACINE — The man found guilty of killing off-duty Racine police officer John Hetland has been sentenced to life in prison.

Dalquavis Ward, 27 of Milwaukee, was convicted of 1st-Degree Intentional Homicide, Armed Robbery and Possess Firearm-Convicted of a Felony in Racine County Court in September. A Racine County jury found him guilty on all counts.

Hetland was off-duty when he tried to intervene in a robbery at Teezers Bar and Grill in Racine in June 2019. Prosecutors argue Ward shot Hetland once before running out of the bar.

Hetland was pronounced dead at the scene. He was a 24-year veteran of the Racine Police Department.

On Friday, a Racine County judge handed down life in prison for Dalquavis Ward, without eligibility of extended supervision.

27-year-old Ward showed no reaction as Hetland's family addressed him in court, sharing their memories and grief.

"The day you killed my brother you actually killed a part of my parents, myself, and my other brother as well," said Shelly LeGath, Hetland's sister.

"My sister and I have no father to look up to at this point in our lives. Our family and community have been permanently damaged," said Hetland's son Hunter. "Forgiveness is not an option at this point for these cruel choices that have caused the suffering of many."

Ward was released from federal prison four days before killing Hetland. He spoke briefly in court on Friday.

"I would like to say that I maintain my innocence. I intend to pursue my appellate rights as soon as possible," said Ward.

The defense made their case to set a parole eligibility date even 60 to 80 years down the road to allow Ward a chance at programming in prison.

"We actually offer some good programming that can make that person even within the confines of a Wisconsin state prison a productive member of society or a better person that’s what we strive for," said defense attorney Charles Glynn.

Judge Timothy Boyle denied the request.

"Given that officer John Hetland will never see and be in the community ever again it is the intent and purpose of the sentence that you will not either," said Judge Boyle.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley, who prosecuted the case, said Hetland's family is relieved.

"I think it was the right thing to do and I really feel like the judge made a decision that reflects on the danger that this defendant was for this community," said Graveley.

Ward is also required to pay restitution, that hearing is set for April 5.

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