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May 25, 2019

4/20/2019 7:26:00 AM
Solis takes deal, enters 'no contest' plea to homicide by negligent handling of weapon
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

A Hazelhurst man has accepted a plea agreement in a 2017 homicide case in Vilas County Circuit Court.

Jeremiah Solis, 21, pled no contest before Judge Neal Nielsen on April 18. District attorney Martha Milanowski outlined the plea agreement for the court - dismissal of a felony count of homicide by firearm with use of a controlled substance as well as dismissal of a separate felony bail jumping case in exchange for a no contest/guilty plea to the felony count of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.

She also requested the court order a pre-sentence investigation (PSI).

Solis shot Connor Stephens, 20, Eagle River, in a city apartment in fall of 2017. According to police reports, Solis was "playing" with his recently-purchased gun while under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances. Stephens died not long after he was taken away by ambulance.

Defense attorney Al Moustakis proposed a defense PSI for his client as well.

"I understand you are pleading no contest?" Nielsen asked Solis.

"Yes, sir," Solis answered.

"With no contest, you are telling the court you neither admit nor deny, but no longer want to contest (the case)," Nielsen said. "I will find you guilty when you plead no contest."

Solis acknowledged he had considered all the options in the matter and made an informed decision with his attorney.

The agreement cancels an early May jury trial.

If convicted, Solis faces up to 10 years in prison (five incarcerated and five extended supervision) and up to a $25,000 fine. The state agreed to exceed the PSI recommendation.

"(Solis) now has a child and is working," Moustakis said. "He has taken this matter seriously all along."

A sentencing hearing is set for June 24 in which input can be made towards Solis' sentencing by both the state and defense as well as the victim's family or "others who wish to add input," Nielsen explained.

Solis remains free on a $20,000 signature bond.

He may not obtain a passport, possess guns, have contact with the victim's family or consume alcohol or intoxicants and follow a curfew.

"It concerns me that we have a conviction for a rather significant case," Nielsen told Solis. "You are still on bond ... we will never stop looking for you if you're not here on June 24."

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