Court docs lay out web of drug trafficking investigations, ties to Anisa Scott’s murder that led to Quadren Wilson shooting
MADISON, Wis. — Recently filed court documents have shined new light on a web of drug trafficking investigations — including ties to the murder of Anisa Scott — that led up to the shooting of Quadren Wilson earlier this year while he was being taken into custody.
Details about the investigations leading up to the arrest of 38-year-old Wilson were included in a memorandum filed by Attorney Michael Steinle in support of a motion calling for the Dane County District Attorney’s Office to be recused from a case against state Division of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Wagner. Wagner was charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety in September for his role in the shooting that hospitalized Wilson.
The motion filed on Wagner’s behalf claimed the DA’s office had a conflict of interest because of the office’s role in a series of investigations into Wilson’s alleged drug trafficking.
Investigation into drug trafficking ring
According to Wagner’s defense team’s memo, a DCI agent had been working with federal agents on a drug trafficking investigation in Dane County dating back to early 2020. During the investigation, law enforcement reportedly found a large-scale cocaine trafficker located in Dane County, who’s referred to in court documents as “XXX.”
The memo goes on to say the Dane County DA’s office worked alongside DCI to get court-authorized wiretaps to track the cocaine dealer. The wiretaps started in August 2020, and the investigation was completed in January 2021 under the supervision of the DA’s office.
According to the court document, investigators identified Wilson as one of the unnamed drug dealer’s regular customers who routinely bought large quantities of cocaine and was regularly armed during drug transactions and while driving.
As a result of the federal investigation, six people were charged, though Wilson was not one of them. It wasn’t clear if the unnamed dealer was one of the six to face federal charges. Wagner’s attorneys claimed officials with the DA’s office had promised to also bring state charges against those six people, Wilson, and others for conduct related to the federal investigation, but none had been filed as of Dec. 6, 2022.
Connection to Anisa Scott shooting
While law enforcement was monitoring the wiretapped phones authorized for the federal investigation, 11-year-old Anisa Scott was shot and killed in Madison; she was riding in a car with her mother’s boyfriend at the time.
That man — Christopher Carthans — and Wilson had both been suspected of committing armed robberies that targeted rival drug traffickers in the Madison area; according to the memo, both were under “hits” from rival traffickers at the time Scott was killed. Wilson was also believed to have been at the scene of the shooting, possibly in another car, but the memo doesn’t say why law enforcement suspect that.
In early fall of 2020, the Dane County Narcotics Task force searched Wilson’s family home on Milwaukee Street and seized numerous guns and drugs. According to the memo, Wilson contacted the unnamed drug dealer after the search saying he was concerned because one of the guns seized was connected to some sort of crime, though it’s unclear exactly what.
Wilson’s alleged criminal activity prior to shooting
The following spring, in April 2021, a person died of an overdose caused by drugs law enforcement believed Wilson sold to him. Those allegations were later outlined in a criminal complaint filed against Wilson charging him in that person’s death.
In the months after the overdose incident, Wilson was suspected and charged with other crimes including pointing a handgun at someone driving a bus and domestic violence, all while on extended supervision. On June 8, 2021, the Dane County Narcotics Task Force tried arresting Wilson with help from DCI agents and aerial surveillance from the FBI. Wilson ultimately escaped arrest with help from an associate of his.
In late January 2022, the DA’s office reportedly indicated to DCI that state charges would be filed against Wilson for his conduct tied to the investigation into the unnamed dealer. Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections issued a warrant for Wilson’s arrest on the morning of Feb. 3, 2022.
WATCH: Video released of arrest, aftermath of police shooting of Quadren Wilson
During the incident, Wagner fired two rounds at the vehicle Wilson was in, saying he did so when he saw Wilson start to move around inside his car. Wilson suffered five wounds to his back which were caused by five individual fragments from a single bullet.
When searching Wilson’s car after his arrest, law enforcement found 48 grams of cocaine base, 23 grams of Fentanyl, a digital scale, and $1,856 in cash. In May, Wilson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison on a pair of drug charges, including possession of cocaine. In exchange, the DA’s office agreed to not charge Wilson with any crimes that may have occurred prior to the Feb. 3 incident.
Wilson was ultimately not charged for any role stemming from the investigation into the unnamed drug dealer as part of a plea deal.
Chances of DA’s recusal
Ion Meyn, a law professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he thinks it’s likely that the defense’s motion for recusal will be denied because the it did not cite any legal precedent. He also doesn’t believe Wagner’s attorney’s were able to show a personal connection between DA Ishmael Ozanne or his office and Wilson that creates bias or demonstates an institutional conflict of interest.
“If anything there’s an alignment. There’s an alignment between the office and the defendant, not the victim,” Meyn said. “It’s really common for a prosecutorial office to be involved in investigatory functions. That occurs all the time. If that was the basis for a conflict you’d be seeing request for recusals on a daily basis.”
Meyn believes the motion to dismiss is instead a way for Wagner’s attorneys to try and stop the case before the trial begins. He said if the judge sides with the defense another prosecutor could choose drop the charges altogether.
“I can imagine these defense attorneys just looking at and factoring ‘oh my gosh what explained why the prosecution is bringing these charges anyway? They have to be bias to bring these charges,’ just reading the complaint,’ he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
In a October Wagner’s attorney’s also filed a motion to have the case dismissed altogether, a judge has not yet made a decision on either motion.
Wagner had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing, but it was canceled last minute. No follow-up court dates — including one to address the motion for recusal — had been scheduled as of 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
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