A DeForest man and Sun Prairie man each face up to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the October 2018 beating death of a 24-year-old Dane man.
Jacob A. Johnson, age 24, Sun Prairie, and Drew A. Luber, age 21 of DeForest, plead guilty to felony murder in connection with the Oct. 30 death of Dalton David Ziegler of Dane, during a May 17 Dane County Circuit Court plea hearing.
Ziegler’s girlfriend, McKayla R. Tracy, age 20, of Lodi, has also been charged with felony murder.
According to the criminal complaint, Tracy called Johnson and Luber to come to the house she shared with Ziegler because she through that Ziegler was cheating on her.
Tracy told deputies that she and Ziegler were arguing the previous night and that she called Johnson, Luber, and another person to come to the house, 7934 State Highway 113, that she shared with Ziegler because she thought she heard Ziegler having sex with a woman who was a guest at a party that was going on, according to the criminal complaint.
Tracy said Johnson and Luber pounded on the bedroom door and when Ziegler came out Johnson started to beat him as Luber held Ziegler down. Tracy said the beating lasted around 20 minutes and that she told Luber and Johnson to stop beating Ziegler. Tracy said she did not call 911 or help Ziegler because of whatever drug Luber and Johnson gave her.
The woman reported to deputies that she was going to sleep on the couch but Ziegler offered for her share his bed because they both had to work in the morning. She said that they were adults and nothing sexual was going to happen and they could put a pillow between them. The woman said she woke up around 3:30 a.m. when she head male voices and heard Tracy say “She’s in my (expletive) bed” and that at least two men started to beat Ziegler after he opened the door and told them to “Get the (expletive) out”.
Luber said Tracy was “hell-bent on catching (Ziegler) with this girl” and said it was a joint effort of Johnson and Tracy to plan to jimmy the bedroom door open with a crowbar. Luber said that Tracy and Johnson also wanted to get money from Ziegler to buy cocaine. Johnson had taken $25 and bank and credit cards from Ziegler’s wallet, according to the criminal complaint.
Johnson told investigators that he arrived with Luber at the Hwy. 113 residence and confronted Ziegler, who attempted to strike him and call him a name. Johnson said he struck repeatedly Ziegler in the face until he saw blood pouring from Ziegler’s nose. Johnson reported that Tracy was in the corner of the room making statements to “stop and that he (Johnson) had hit Ziegler enough and that he had learned his lesson.” Johnson told deputies “that he went too far” in striking Ziegler.
An autopsy by the Dane County Medical Examiner reported that Ziegler’s body had multiple blunt force head injuries, including facial fractures.
Johnson and Luber each face up to 18 1/2 years in prison on the felony murder charge. During the May 17 plea hearing, the state made no request to revoke Johnson’s $35,000 cash bail, that was posted on Nov. 1.
Johnson is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 6.
As part of a plea agreement, a misdemeanor bail jumping charge against Luber was dismissed by Judge Susan M. Crawford but can be read in for sentencing.
Luber was charged with misdemeanor battery, disorderly conduct, possession of cocaine and misdemeanor bail jumping in connection with an Aug. 4, 2018 incident at the Nitty Gritty restaurant/bar in Sun Prairie. Luber and Cody Nelson, age 27, of Sun Prairie, reportedly beat a man in the restaurant bathroom, according to the criminal complaint. The victim reported he was in a bathroom stall when the two men were asking about money and how they thought he was doing cocaine in the stall. The man told police that Nelson and Luber were “wailing” on him and repeatedly punched him in the head and face multiple times before throwing him to the ground.
As part of a plea agreement, Luber plead guilty to the misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges, and the other charges were dismissed in the Aug. 4 incident. Judge Crawford sentenced Luber to two days in jail, time already served, on the disorderly charge. Luber has been held on a $50,000 cash bail since Oct. 30.
Luber is scheduled for an Aug. 12 sentencing on the felony murder charges.
Dane County District Attorney Matthew D. Moeser told Judge Crawford at a May 3 hearing that counsel is working on a resolution in the Tracy case but has requested possible dates for a week-long trial.