Truth-in-sentencing doesn’t apply to Dec.1999 crimes — (The Herald Times Reporter)

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The Herald Times Reporter (Manitowoc, WI)

August 25, 2000

Author: Rob Young, Herald Times Reporter, The (Manitowoc, WI)

MANITOWOC – A Cleveland man who terrorized his ex-girlfriend and her 6-year-old son before nearly burning down their apartment was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison. Daniel M. Bartz, 30, will be eligible for parole because his December 1999 crimes were committed before the state’s new truth in sentencing law took effect.  Bartz was under a court order to stay away from his former live-in girlfriend when he went to her apartment and sexually assaulted her while armed with a knife.

He then tied up the woman and her son, took her pickup truck and ATM card and left the state.  Bartz returned a few days later when the woman and boy were not home and sloshed methanol racing fuel around the apartment.  He claimed the resulting fire, which caused more than $20,000 damage, was an accident. Bartz then went to his parents’ home in Cleveland where he falsely claimed to have plastic explosives and held off police while armed with a rifle.

Circuit Judge Fred Hazlewood sentenced Bartz to 20 years for sexual assault while armed and another 10 years for physically abusing the son. He stayed two five-year sentences for false imprisonment but ruled Bartz will be on probation for 10 years after release.  Bartz struck the boy in the mouth, then “hog-tied” him and taped his mouth shut.

District Attorney E. James FitzGerald said the boy easily could have died if he had vomited while the tape covered his mouth.  He did vomit immediately after being freed, FitzGerald said. FitzGerald called Bartz’s 31-page written statement to the court an “epistle” attempting to portray himself as a better person than his crimes suggest.  But the statement is all about “me, myself and I. … I believe he’s sincerely sorry.

But he is what his crimes are,” he said. Bartz’s record of violence with women indicates he regards them as property, not as human beings, FitzGerald said.  Bartz is a Persian Gulf War veteran who witnessed seven friends die in an accidental explosion while moving munitions, according to a pre-sentence report. Bartz’s public defender, Gary Kavanagh, did not claim Bartz suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the war, but the pre-sentence report said Bartz displayed symptoms similar to PTSD.  Bartz apparently was hoping police would shoot him, Kavanagh said. FitzGerald called talk of PTSD “rank speculation” and said Bart’s wartime experience is “not a reason and certainly not an excuse” for the crime spree.  Bartz had run out of Paxil, a prescription antidepressant, and was drinking during the crimes, according to testimony.

After being taken into custody he bragged of his military training and said he had one officer in the crosshairs of his rifle while holed up in his parents’ house. Bartz said he had given the officer a Christmas present by not pulling the trigger. Hazlewood said he did not accept war experience or alcohol as an excuse. “You have the capacity, the ability and the desire” to commit crimes and will do so again “with the slimmest of provocation,” Hazlewood said. Bartz had only two misdemeanors on his record before the Christmas crime spree.  Bartz apologized to the boy, who was not present, and said he had destroyed his own future by his “irrational behavior and jealousy. “At heart I’m not what my behavior has been. … I wish I could take back what I’ve done but I cannot,” he said.

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