Trial begins to determine whether former barber's mental health led to murder in Mount Pleasant

Trial begins to determine whether former barber’s mental health led to murder in Mount Pleasant

RACINE — The trial to determine whether a barber had a mental disability when he shot and killed the man whose hair he had just cut began Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court.


Tamir Williams, 35, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon in the August 2021 shooting death of André Sandoval, who was 21.

Williams worked as a barber and Sandoval was a client at Angel’s Beauty Salon, 2221 Durand Ave., Mount Pleasant.

Initially, it was believed that Williams shot Sandoval because he refused to pay for a haircut.

The reasons may be more complicated as Williams was said to have had delusions for some time and believed the young man to be a demonic entity, according to Tuesday’s testimony. In reality, Sandoval was a beloved and hardworking young man, and a devout Catholic who was active in volunteerism.

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It wasn’t until Williams started making comments about “demons” that Sandoval attempted to leave.

Williams followed Sandoval outside and shot him. Williams made no attempt to flee and was arrested when police arrived.

Williams previously pleaded guilty to the underlying facts, acknowledging that he pulled the trigger that killed Sandoval. The trial will determine whether a mental disability interfered with his ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions and led to an inability to conform his behavior to a legal standard.

There is no jury. The defense made the decision to have a trial in court; therefore, Judge Robert Repischak will be the only person to determine whether Williams is mentally responsible for the homicide.

In a criminal trial, the onus is on the state to prove that an accused committed a crime. In an NGI (not guilty by reason of mental disability) case, the onus is on the defense to prove that the accused had a mental disability at the time of the crime.

If Repischak decides Williams is not guilty by reason of mental retardation, however, he will not be released.

Defendant, father of deceased removed from courtroom

The case has been emotionally charged from the start.

Williams appeared to be down during Tuesday’s testimony.

He started crying and had to be taken out of the courtroom until he recovered.

Additionally, the victim’s father was expelled from the courtroom for the duration of the trial for comments he made to the defense attorney.

Attorney Gregory A. Holdahl, a public defender, said during a break the victim’s father approached him, saying he didn’t know how the lawyer lived with himself portraying murderers .

Holdahl alleged that the victim’s father had previously told him that he (the victim’s father) hoped his (Holdahl’s) son would die so he would know what it felt like to lose a son.

The man admitted making the comments and was removed from the courtroom.

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