Everyone seems to complain about the other drivers on the road. In fairness, there are some awful drivers out there. It’s why I’m damn glad I don’t have to drive to an office every day. The only crash I’m likely to have during my daily commute is because the cat got tangled up in my feet.
But most of us do have to go somewhere at some point. That probably means dealing with other drivers.
That also means the potential for road rage. If you have a gun on your person, though, be careful. Don’t end up like this guy.
A Whitefish Bay man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday, July 28 in the road rage shooting death of Tracey Smith in August 2019 near 51st Street and Capitol Drive. Prosecutors said road rage led to the gunfire as Smith taught her son how to drive. Wilks said it was self-defense.
A jury convicted Matthew Wilks, 36, of first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon in February.
In court Tuesday, he received a life sentence for the homicide conviction, and he is not eligible for extended supervision. He was sentenced to serve five years in prison and five years’ extended supervision on the firearm conviction, to be served concurrently.
Wilks did not testify during the trial. In fact, the defense called no witnesses. During closing arguments, Wilks’ attorney said there was no disputing Wilks was the one who pulled the trigger but said his intent was not to kill.
And that was a big question.
However, it wasn’t difficult to answer, either.
“The person from the van told my mom, ‘Shut the (expletive) up,’ and, ‘(Expletive), I’ll kill you,’” said Caleb Smith. “Then, he shot my mom, and got in his car and made a U-turn.”
“From Caleb Smith and Adria Harris, they heard just before the shot was fired, ‘(Expletive), I’ll kill you,’” said Tiffin. “In the state’s view, that’s about as clear as a statement of intent because it is followed immediately by a gunshot.”
Now, that’s pretty clear cut.
Here’s the thing, though. If you have a firearm on your person, it’s on you to do everything you can to manage the situation to keep it from getting to this point. If you’re someone with a temper, do everyone a favor. Get anger management therapy immediately. Treat it. Get your temper in check.
Further, learn some de-escalation techniques to try and calm situations down, if possible. Do everything you can to settle stuff down, if for no other reason than so you don’t end up in court getting life in prison over your reaction to a fender bender.
Now, a woman is dead, her son is likely traumatized, and someone else is going to prison for the rest of their life over an incident that just shouldn’t have happened.
Do yourself and your family a favor and learn.
I don’t know that Wilks had a temper issue or not. Maybe he was normally pretty chill but got set off this time. It doesn’t matter. He still went too far and is now going away.
Do not let this happen to you.