Ted Oswald found guilty

Ted Oswald found guilty


Waukesha Theodore Oswald was convicted Wednesday on all 19 charges stemming from a bank robbery crime spree that included the murder of a Waukesha police officer.

Seven men and five women jurors deliberated only three hours before returning the verdicts at 4:23 p.m. The 19-year-old defendant sat staring ahead, his face draining of emotion as the verdicts were read.

Afterward, he turned around and glanced briefly at his mother and two sisters, and then hung his head. He then shook hands with his defense attorney.

Oswald’s mother, Susan Oswald, and his sisters sat a few rows behind him, growing more emotional as the Circuit Judge Lee S. Dreyfus Jr. read each verdict.

When Dreyfus was through, Susan Oswald hung her head, covered her face with her hands and sobbed for several minutes.

Also in the courtroom was Diane Lutz, the widow of the slain officer, Capt. James Lutz.

As she listened to the verdicts, she smiled and touched the hands of relatives sitting nearby.

Oswald faces the possibility of two life sentences, plus about 700 years in prison. A sentencing date was not set.

The charges include robbing a bank and two credit unions, killing a police officer, wounding two others, stealing vehicles, entering a rural Pewaukee home and kidnapping the resident.

During the trial, Oswald admitted to the crime spree. He also described a bizarre childhood that the defense hoped would show he had been forced into a violent life of crime by his father, James Oswald, 50, who goes on trial on the same charges next month.

According to testimony, Lutz was pursuing suspects in a Wales bank robbery April 28 when the car he was chasing stopped, and the Oswalds got out and walked directly toward his car while repeatedly firing into the vehicle, killing the officer.

Testimony from Oswald, his mother and sisters told of abusive behavior by the father toward his son dating back to early childhood.

Oswald said his father led him into an obsession with “the dark side,” a life of extreme violence with no emotion or morality.

In closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Samuel Benedict said the elder Oswald prepared his only son for criminal activity from childhood and threatened to kill him if he didn’t participate in a series of robberies.

“There was no conspiracy here. These are not partners. This is a son who has been manipulated, emotionally battered,” Benedict said.

He urged the jury to find his client guilty of a lesser verdict, second-degree intentional homicide.

But Dist. Atty. Paul E. Bucher told the jury that Oswald’s claims of coercion were “garbage.”

He said Oswald had a less- than-desirable upbringing, but so have millions of other children who don’t turn to a life of violent crime.

“I’ve had it up to here with Teddy Oswald and how bad his life was,” Bucher said, gesturing to the top of his head.

If society has reached the point where it can excuse the inexcusable by a defendant who knows right from wrong, then “we don’t need to build any more prisons,” Bucher said. “We better start with cemeteries.”

In a news conference afterward, Mrs. Lutz said only Oswald’s mother would be capable of feeling sympathy for him.

“My husband made a choice,” Mrs. Lutz said. “He fought for the good, the principles our country was founded on. He was a good man, and a bad man took his life.”

Mrs. Lutz, who started a campaign to reinstate the death penalty in Wisconsin after the death of her husband, said her feelings on that issue are stronger than ever.

Susan Oswald held her daughters’ hands as she talked in a whispery voice with the media after the verdicts.

“Ted never had a chance,” Susan Oswald said. “They (the jurors) weren’t listening.”

Susan Oswald said she met with her son briefly before the verdicts were announced.

“We just touched,” she said. “We held each other and we told each other we cared for one another.”

After meeting with his client, Benedict said Oswald was so separated from normal society he felt he was speaking a different language and needed a translator to get his message across to the jury.

Despite Oswald’s inability to express emotions, he does feel remorse and sadness, Benedict said.

Benedict said he told Oswald, “try to hold your head high.”

Copyright 1995

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.