'He wanted the driver to die:' Man intentionally swerved to kill motorcyclist, officials say
FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Fond du Lac man is facing first degree intentional homicide and hate crime charges in connection to a fatal crash that happened in the Town of Taycheedah.
The accused, 27-year-old Daniel Navarro, made his first court appearance Thursday, July 9.
A criminal complaint says while out driving on the evening of July 3, Navarro swerved his vehicle into oncoming traffic to purposely hit a motorcyclist. Phillip Thiessen, 55, was killed.
Navarro later told investigators he was targeting a white person.
"We do not believe the suspect knew Phillip," said Fond du Lac County Sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt.
The complaint says Navarro was driving eastbound when he swerved into the path of Thiessen, traveling westbound on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and struck him head-on.
"Navarro said he intentionally swerved into the path of the oncoming motorcycle with the intent to kill that operator," Sheriff Waldschmidt said.
Thiessen died at the scene.
According to the criminal complaint, detectives interviewed Navarro for about three-and-a-half hours where he revealed he was intentionally targeting a white person because in Wisconsin, they drive motorcycles and Harley culture is made up of white racists.
"He chose a motorcycle instead of a car because he wanted the driver to die and not just be injured or paralyzed," said Sheriff Waldschmidt.
"He has the presumption of innocence, and we're going to let that process play out," said Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney.
Navarro told detectives he was constantly targeted for being Mexican by Caucasian neighbors, friends and coworkers.
There are still a lot of questions unanswered in this case. The Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office will continue investigating and recreating the incident, and asking residents for any tips.
DA Toney said killing someone isn't the proper response.
"People can disagree, but not take steps to violence," Toney said. "There can be civil discussion if people want reforms to have those discussions peacefully, but violence is never the way to solve issues and it only sets things backwards."
Navarro's bond was set at $1 million. He's expected back in court on July 17.