Man charged in Port shooting gets six years for failed carjacking

Sentencing of accomplice delayed after he tries to retract his plea of no contest to attempted homicide
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

One of the two Milwaukee men involved in an attempted carjacking and shooting in downtown Port Washington last year was sentenced to prison last week while his accomplice — the shooter — on Monday tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea.

  Niyoktron Martin, 21, was to be sentenced by Judge Sandy Williams on Monday but his attorney Daryl Laatsch instead argued that his no-contest plea should be thrown out.

Martin pleaded no contest and was found guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in December, and in return three other charges filed against him were dismissed, including being a party to attempted armed robbery, endangering safety by the reckless use of a firearm, bail jumping and resisting or obstructing an officer.

  Prosecutors at the time recommended that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by 12 years of extended supervision.

  Martin did not understand the implications of the plea, Laatsch said, adding he denies that he intended to kill the 18-year-old he shot.

Williams noted that Martin signed off on documents and testified that he understood the elements of the charges against him when he entered his plea.

“There is nothing in this record that indicates the defendant did not understand the elements (of the crime),” she said, including the intent to kill.

She denied Martin’s request to change his plea, then set an 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, date for his sentencing.

On Feb. 14, Williams sentenced Martin’s accomplice and cousin, Lavander Blanks, to six years in prison followed by four years extended supervision for his role in the shooting.

Blanks pleaded no contest and was found guilty of attempted armed robbery, a felony, in December. Charges of attempted first degree intentional homicide and endangering safety by the reckless use of a firearm were dismissed.

As Blanks was led out of the courtroom following the sentencing, he looked at the victim’s mother Stacey Wagner and said, “I’m sorry” as she nodded.

During the hearing, Wagner told Williams her son was traumatized by everything that happened and has moved from the area.

“My son is OK. He has moved away,” she said. “He doesn’t want anything to do with this.”

Wagner talked about being in her apartment and hearing shots fired, then texting her son to tell him not to come home because of it. She went to her window, she said, and saw two men walking, then heard more shots. Directing her comments to Blanks, Wagner said she screamed and “it distracted you guys from your rampage on my child.”

At one point, Wagner said, the men walked toward her apartment and leaned against her husband’s car. One man pointed the gun at her and “proceeded to shoot.”

“It’s going to take me a long time to heal from this,” she said.

Speaking to Blanks, Wagner said, “You deserve everything you get. You’re just as guilty as he (Martin) is.”

Blanks, who turned to look at Wagner when he spoke, apologized.

“This isn’t me at all. I am not the monster you think I am,” he said. “I feel your pain.”

Blanks said he never anticipated the situation that occurred, and if he could have, he would have taken the bullet himself. 

“I am thankful we’re not sitting here talking about the victim passing away,” he said. 

“I ask for your forgiveness,” he added.

Williams told Blanks that it was only luck that saved the victim, who was shot in the shoulder.

“You don’t get credit for the luck,” she said.

Williams talked about the “nightmare” that Blanks and Martin caused, saying her “heart missed a beat” when she learned the victim’s mother witnessed part of the shooting.

“I cannot imagine what she went through,” Williams said. “You (Blanks) put yourself in that position that night ... You’re certainly one who should have a clear comprehension of the fear and anxiety you and your co-defendant created for this family.”

The charges stem from a May 20 shooting when Martin and Blanks attempted to carjack an 18-year-old who was sitting in his car on East Main Street in downtown Port Washington.

At the time, Martin was hiding out with Blanks, who was living in downtown Port with his fiance, after Martin allegedly gunned down a man in Milwaukee two days before the Port shooting and stole his gun, the 9 mm used to shoot the Port Washington teenager, according to a complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court charging Martin with felony murder.

Authorities found a pair of Martin’s blood-stained pants, which along with the gun helped tie him to the Milwaukee murder, according to the complaint.

About 11 p.m. Sunday, May 20, the two men approached the Port teen. Martin, who was on the driver’s side of the car, pointed a gun at the teen and ordered him out of the vehicle. Instead, the teen put the car into reverse and Martin opened fire.

The teenager, who was wounded in the shoulder area, backed onto Franklin Street and drove to the police station while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

At the sentencing hearing, Blanks’ attorney Matthew Weil said the two men went out for cigarettes when the situation “changed very quickly to ‘We need to take a car and leave.’

“He (Blanks) certainly had no plan to hurt anybody, much less to shoot at anybody,” Weil said. “He’s very thankful the situation is not worse than it is.”

Weil did not excuse his client, saying, “There’s no question about how senseless this act was. Mr. Blanks’ conduct was ridiculous.”

But, he said, Blanks has worked with police and has shown remorse and concern for the victim and his family.

“I think he is incredibly torn up about this,” Weil said. “I think he felt helpless as this spiraled.”

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Sisley, who recommended the sentence imposed by Williams, called the incident “a horrendous crime.” 

Blanks, he noted, was on extended supervision at the time, and that Blanks not only cooperated with authorities but agreed to testify against Martin, if necessary.

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