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Trial begins for man accused of killing off-duty Racine police officer

Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 18:55:56-04

RACINE — The trial has begun for the man accused of killing an off-duty Racine Police Officer. Dalquavis Ward, 27, is accused of shooting and killing John Hetland during a robbery at Teezers Bar and Grill.

Ward sat in a Racine County courtroom in a face shield at the defense table. The court room was partly full and the jury is spaced apart. All were part of the social distanced guidelines required to even hold this trial.

During opening statements, the Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley, who is prosecuting the case to avoid a conflict of interest, said Ward chose to shoot Hetland and should be convicted of first degree intentional homicide.

“You will see the last 13 seconds of John Hetland’s life,” said Graveley. “They reveal what this defendant is willing to do.”

According to Graveley, Hetland had a chance to run out of Teezers Bar and Grill in Racine as a robbery was taking place as he was off-duty.

“You will see on that video that he can’t do it. He can’t leave. You will see him turn around. And you will see him in his literally movement that he chooses to not let this robbery happen that he could prevent,” said Graveley.

Prosecutors say Hetland instead tried to tackle Ward and take the gun from him as he robbed a bartender. Instead, Ward allegedly shot and killed Hetland. The DA say afterwards investigators found Ward’s DNA on Hetland’s body and in the bar.

“That the DNA in four separate locations confirm this is the individual guilty of these crimes,” said Graveley.

The defense says that doesn’t prove anything. Instead, they question the Racine Police Department’s involvement in the case.

“You’ll find out that Racine law enforcement community already had Mr Ward’s DNA,” said defense attorney Charles Glynn.

According to the defense, witnesses describe the man who shot Hetland in ways that don’t match Ward.

“They said light skinned to dark skinned, Hispanic, one says possible white,” said Glynn .

Witnesses also say it appeared the suspect was someone who was familiar with Teezers Bar. But the defense says there is no proof Ward has even been to Teezers and he was definitely not there on the night Hetland died, so he could not have killed him, according to the defense.

“What is true is the person who went in there is not Mr. Ward,” said Glynn.

Ward is facing life in prison. He is being held in the Kenosha County Jail to avoid any conflict of interest.

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