Frank Report is investigating the conviction of Lawrence Chan Paine, who is currently residing at a medium-security prison located 10 miles west of Plymouth, Wisconsin.
He is serving two life sentences for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide murder in Wisconsin. The dead men, Janari Saddler and Aaron Harrington, were shot multiple times in the upstairs flat of a Milwaukee duplex on April 10, 2004.
There was no physical evidence linking Paine to the murders. Police never recovered the gun.
Paine’s DNA was not found at the scene.
Eric Howard said he was in the flat during the shootings. He said Janari Saddler discussed a parked car with a person the witness knew as “Chan.”
Howard said “Chan” had parked the car, which Saddler thought was stolen, in front of the duplex where Saddler lived. “Chan” became upset with Saddler for continuing to talk about the car, pointed a gun at Saddler, followed a retreating Saddler into the bedroom, and then the witness heard multiple gunshots.
Howard said he heard the other victim, Harrington, yell, “Don’t kill me!” followed by more gunshots.
Howard said he ran out of the building. Upon his return to the flat shortly after, he saw the two bodies, one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom, and he left the flat and called 9-1-1.
Howard subsequently identified a photograph of Paine as the person he knew as “Chan.”
George Donald also said he was present at the time of the shootings. He described the events preceding the shootings and identified Paine from a photograph as someone he knew as “Chan.”
The State Crime Laboratory examiner determined from the shells that the firearm used to commit the double homicide was a Ruger semiautomatic pistol that took nine-millimeter caliber ammunition, and that the rifling had lands and grooves with a right-hand twist.
Because the gun was not recovered, the State Crime Laboratory report requested that police send any 9mm caliber firearm recovered to the lab for comparison with the collected evidence.
On the evening of April 9 through the early morning of April 10, Paine said he was not in the flat where Saddler and Harrington were killed.
Instead, Paine said he was with Anthony “Skin” Blackman, who lived near 23rd Street and Keefe Avenue.
Paine picked up Skin around 8:00 in the evening. They drove around, then “a little bit after ten o’clock [they] went to the Paradise Strip Club,” where they stayed until “last call,” which Paine guessed was probably 1:30 a.m.
Paine testified they stopped for gas, after which he dropped Skin off.
Later, around 2:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., Paine left Milwaukee and drove to Minnesota to see his young son, who lived with his son’s mother in Mount View. He arrived at the Golden Valley Super 8 hotel around 8:30 in the morning. (According to Google maps, the drive is just over five hours.)
While he was in Minnesota, he heard from Skin about the murders.
Paine later testified he remained in the Minneapolis area until approximately the beginning of May. He then took a bus from Minneapolis to Whitewater, Wisconsin, to stay with Zenobia Davis, a woman he met in Minneapolis.
After arriving in Whitewater, he heard from his mother that he was on news reports about the murders. He returned to Milwaukee and went to the police.
In October 2004, Milwaukee Police, led by Officer Ala Awadallah, arrested Ronald Q. Terry in a drug bust. Officer Awadallah recovered a black Ruger P85 nine-millimeter Luger caliber firearm, which had rifling characteristics similar to the unrecovered weapon used in the double homicide.
If the State Crime Lab ever tested Q Terry’s gun, they never produced a report.
However, there was something else that tied Q. Terry to the scene. His DNA was found at the murder scene, along with eight other people, including the two men, Howard and Donald, who called 911 that night and then fled.
After Paine turned himself in, he told police about Skin and Zenobia Davis.
Skin could not be found.
But Milwaukee Police detectives Katherine Hein and Gilbert Hernandez interviewed Davis after Paine provided them with her contact information.
Davis told police that Skin had “changed his cell phone number because he had outstanding warrants and was afraid of going to jail.”
Davis told police Skin telephoned Paine when he discovered police claimed Paine was involved in the murders because Skin saw Paine’s picture on television. But she only heard Paine’s side of the telephone conversation with Skin.
She heard Paine tell Skin, “Dog, I was at a club on the south side. Dog, wasn’t I with you? Yeah, yeah, okay.”
After Paine turned himself in, Skin telephoned Davis to console her about Paine, telling her not to worry because Paine “would probably be out in a couple days.”
Sherika Ray lived downstairs from the murder apartment. She had spoken to police about what she heard on the night of the murders.
After police arrested Q. Terry in the drug bust in October, she received a call from jail. It was Q. Terry. He wanted to know what she witnessed during the double homicide and what she had told police.
Terry warned Ray that something could happen to her if she cooperated with the police.
A police report included a statement from Sherika Ray.
She said after Terry was released from jail, around Thanksgiving 2004, Terry and some other men approached her mother’s house when she was there. They displayed their guns. Ray was fearful and left the house.
A 2005 trial, the State of Wisconsin v. Lawrence C. Paine, was declared a mistrial after the jury was found hopelessly deadlocked.
In July 2005, the state retried Paine before an all-white jury. Judge David A. Hansher presided over the trial.
There was no videotape evidence that Paine was at either the Paradise Strip Club or the gas station.
Paine’s entire alibi was Skin. He could not produce Skin at trial. The jury heard evidence of the dubious existence of Skin through the defendant’s statements to police and Paine’s testimony.
Paine had to tell the jury about Skin.
Davis attended Paine’s trial, although Paine’s lawyers did not call her. Had Davis testified, she would have corroborated Skin’s existence (as opposed to Paine having made Skin up to provide himself with an alibi) and corroborated Skin’s fear of talking with police.
Sherika Ray appeared on the witness list for trial. The record does not show she testified.
Paine testified that he knew both victims, Saddler and Harrington, and they were “good friends, close friends.”
The jury found Paine guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Judge Hansher sentenced Paine to two life sentences. He has been in prison since 2004.
After the Trial
The gun that Milwaukee Police Officer Awadallah seized from Q Terry, the Ruger P85, was returned to its legal owner in March 2005.
It took Paine 13 years to have the gun analyzed.
In June 2018, the owner allowed Paine to have bullets fired in the recovered firearm tested by a forensics examiner.
The report shows the Ruger had a similar rifling pattern to the casings and bullets recovered from the double homicide.
In 2007, Q Terry pled guilty to conspiring to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, fifty grams of crack, and an unspecified quantity of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and was sentenced to 260 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
The Police Officer Who Took the Gun
Milwaukee Police Officer Ala Awadallah was convicted of shaking down a parolee for money and guns and threatening to plant evidence on different suspects. He was kicked off the force and convicted of a misdemeanor.
Skin Found Too Late
If Anthony Mendez “Skin” Blackman had come forward to testify, Paine might be a free man today. And he could still provide some important information today.
Unfortunately for Paine, Skin can’t do that because he was shot to death in Milwaukee on December 17, 2007. The murderer was never found.
Lead Homicide Detective Hernandez
Homicide Detective Gilbert Hernandez led the case against Paine.
Hernandez was also involved in the convictions of William Avery, who spent six years in prison wrongfully convicted of a murder committed by serial killer, Walter Ellis AKA the ‘Milwaukee Strangler,’ who killed at least seven women, all prostitutes.
Hernandez testified Avery admitted to killing Maryetta Griffin. Avery testified he never confessed.
Avery was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but DNA evidence proved Ellis was the murderer.
Avery sued the city and won $1 million. At the civil suit, Hernandez continued to testify against Avery, but the jury did not believe him.
Chaunte Ott served 13 years in prison for another murder linked to Ellis. Again, DNA exonerated Ott. In Ott’s federal lawsuit against the city, he contended Milwaukee detectives coerced confessions out of two men who implicated him. Ott won the civil lawsuit, and the City paid him $6.5 million,
After sending at least two innocent men to prison, and maybe many more, Hernandez, accused of fabricating statements from suspects and informants, took credit for cracking the Milwaukee Stranger, Walter Ellis’ case.
Later, he was promoted to the state Department of Justice and is now retired.
Lost Video Tape
After 18 years of trying to find the videotape, Paine and members of his team claim the Milwaukee Police Department finally released copies of all the tapes of the Paradise Club in their possession – both the tapes used as evidence and the video they say Hernandez suppressed – the unedited tape, an old VHS tape – which shows Paine and the late Skin Blackman at the Paradise Club on the night – and at the same time – someone gunned down Janari Saddler and Aaron Harrington.
His team has promised to provide that tape to Frank Report.
Paine Claims Innocence
Lawrence Paine said, “I have been in prison for 18 years since I turned myself in. I’m innocent. I am asking you to help me get my case reopened.
I have the video, and I can share it with you. Please help me get this evidence out. A dirty cop framed me. They framed lots of innocent black men.”
A Final Note
The Wisconsin Zip Code 53206 covers an African American neighborhood north of downtown Milwaukee.
As of 2019, it reportedly had the highest black male incarceration rate and the second-highest black female incarceration rate in the USA. The rate of black men incarcerated is said to be 62%.
Now, we must wonder if it is because of the proclivities of the black men and women who live there, combined with the efficiency, inefficiency, or downright corruption of the police force who operate there. Possibly, the police or certain members of the force are an invidious criminal element themselves, running drugs, laundering money, protecting gangsters, and framing innocent men and women.