MILWAUKEE — The man who killed Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski entered a surprising guilty plea Tuesday morning, right before his murder trial was set to begin.
Jonathan Copeland's attorneys said he approached them Monday night after jury selection because he wanted to enter a guilty plea for first-degree intentional homicide. District Attorney John Chisholm said Michalski's family agreed to the deal.
The surprising development means Copeland, 31, will serve a mandatory life sentence for the death of Michalski. Michalski was executing a search warrant last July 28 when Copeland shot him in the head as he climbed a home's staircase.
As part of the deal, Copeland will spend at least 20 years in prison, but other charges that could have enhanced his punishment were dismissed. It will be up to Judge Jeff Wagner whether Copeland will be eligible for release with extended supervision after serving his prison sentence. Chisholm is satisfied by the outcome.
"When it comes right down to it, first-degree homicide is a life sentence. There isn't a lot you can negotiate under those circumstances," he said.
Attorney Calvin Malone didn't share Copeland's reasoning behind the guilty plea. Copeland is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.
The Milwaukee Police Association released the following statement to TODAY'S TMJ4 about Copeland's guilty plea.
"When it comes right down to it, first-degree homicide is a life sentence. There isn't a lot you can negotiate under those circumstances." — District Attorney John Chisholm
"The Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) is satisfied in knowing that Jonathan Copeland is now convicted for his heinous actions against our beloved Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski. His guilty plea ensures that Officer Michalski's family won't have to endure the difficulties that a full trial can bring, as well as guarantees that justice will be served upon Mr. Copeland.
"The MPA stands with the Michalski family and our brothers and sisters in blue in these difficult times and looks forward to Judge Wagner appropriately sentencing Mr. Copeland to life in prison without parole on May 3rd."