A Milwaukee man is being held on $5 million bond for allegedly stabbing to death a Shorewood man with whom he had an intimate relationship. It was the first homicide recorded in the leafy Milwaukee suburb in 20 years.
Homer D. Washington, who lives at Apt. 4, 9307 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and use of a dangerous weapon in the death of Clarence Charles, 57. Washington, 21, also has been charged with taking and driving Charles’ vehicle without consent.
The stabbing occurred in Charles’ apartment at 4460 N. Oakland Ave. in Shorewood. Responding to a missing person’s report filed by Charles’ mother and sister, two Shorewood police officers entered the apartment on the night of July 16 and found Charles' body lying on the bedroom floor. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Charles had been stabbed 13 times, including six times in the abdomen, six in the throat and one in the neck.
A witness placed Washington at Charles’ apartment about noon on July 15, according to a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Derric Hudson told police that he observed Charles making a pizza for Washington and the two were arguing.
But Washington told police the argument began after Hudson left, when Charles accused him of having an affair with Hudson. Later, when Charles and Washington attempted to engage in intimacy, Washington was not responsive, which angered Charles further, Washington told police.
According to Washington’s statement to police, Charles went to the kitchen to get the pizza and returned to the bedroom with a knife while Washington was getting dressed. Charles punched him in the back of the head, setting off a struggle between the two for the knife, Washington said. In the course of the struggle, Charles stabbed himself in the neck and told Washington, “Your life is over,” Washington said.
Washington acknowledged that he choked and stabbed Charles to stop him from screaming. After becoming frightened by the sound of a neighbor outside the apartment, Washington said he fled through a window and drove away in Charles’ 2002 Chevy Blazer, which he later sold for $250.
Washington also took Charles’ cellphone, which he smashed and left on the street. He did not notify police or call for help for Charles, who bled to death, according to the autopsy report.
Washington, if convicted, faces a possible sentence of life in prison. He was charged twice earlier this year with violating restraining orders for harassment that were filed by his grandmother. He was charged last November with battery and disorderly conduct, but prosecutors dismissed those charges after the victim proved unreliable.
The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center issued a statement saying that violence between intimate partners is on the rise in the LGBT community.
“The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center wishes to express our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Charles,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, relationship experiences of LGBTQ people, as it relates to domestic violence and intimate partner violence (IVP) victims, have long been ignored. A new report conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found an increase in IPV-related crimes within the LGBTQ communities.”
Coincidentally, the last homicide in Shorewood occurred 20 years ago in the same building, two floors above where Charles lived. The previous crime also involved an apparently gay man, said Shorewood Police Chief David Banaszynski.
Banaszynski said he was a detective with the Shorewood Police Department at the time. The victim in that case, 65-year-old Harold Miller, worked for the Village Pub, which was owned by a member of Banaszynski’s family.
Lee M. Williams, 37, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing. But he was convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter after claiming that Miller made unwanted sexual advances toward him while the two were drinking in Miller’s apartment.
Banaszynski said he was “shocked” by the verdict and believed that bias had prevented justice from being served.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified Charles as attempting to engage in intimacy with Hudson rather than Washington. The mix-up in names has been corrected.