MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Two people charged in connection with the murder of 17-year-old Breanna Eskridge will stand trial.
34-year-old Antonio Smith is facing one count of first degree intentional homicide (as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon), and one count of felon in possession of a firearm in this case.
He was in court on Thursday, March 17th for his preliminary hearing in this case. Probable cause was found, and Smith was ordered to stand trial. Smith has pleaded not guilty.
Smith will next be in court on March 29th for a scheduling conference.
33-year-old Wynette McClelland is charged with one count of first degree intentional homicide (as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon).
McClelland was also in court for her preliminary hearing Thursday, March 17th. The court found probable cause, and McClelland was bound over for trial.
McClelland will be able to enter a plea on March 29th, when she appears in court for her arraignment.
Cash bond has been set at $75,000 each for Smith and McClelland.
According to the criminal complaint, Eskridge was present when Eddie Powe was shot and killed on W. Port Sunlight Way on July 11, 2015. A little more than a week later, on July 19th, Eskridge was shot and killed near 12th and Concordia. Eskridge’s mother told police at the time, she believed “that her daughter was killed because Breanna was present at the murder of her boyfriend,” Eddie Powe.
The complaint indicates Eskridge was with Wynette McClelland just moments before she was fatally shot. McClelland told police she had known Eskridge and her twin sister for approximately a year “and that they were very good friends. McClelland stated that Breanna Eskridge had confided in her that she was present at the scene of the Powe homicide.”
In statements to police, McClelland said she “observed Antonio Smith shoot and kill Eddie Powe.” She also told police that Smith repeatedly contacted her and “expressed his concern that Breanna Eskridge was going to identify him to police as the murderer.” McClelland told police Smith “intended to kill” Eskridge and that “there weren’t going to be any witnesses.”
Cell phone records noted in the criminal complaint show there were instances in which Smith and McClelland spoke prior to the shooting of Eskridge. Smith also made phone calls and live two-way video chats from jail. Some of those conversations involved a storage unit near 51st and Good Hope Rd. When police executed a search warrant on the storage unit, they found the firearms and ammunition that were allegedly used in the Powe and Eskridge homicides.
Letitia Eskridge on March 10th spoke for the first time about her daughter’s death.
“It’s like it happened yesterday,” said Letitia Eskridge.
And now that charges have been filed, Eskridge’s mother said: “It’s like I’m going through the emotions again. I’m just so grateful it finally came to light.
Those who knew and loved Breanna Eskridge are remembering the 17-year-old girl who was full of life.
“We’ll always mourn her. We’ll always miss her,” Latoya Eskridge, Breanna’s cousin said.
Leticia Eskridge knows another chapter has begun in this case — one she hopes ends in justice for Breanna.
“She’ll never be forgotten. She will always be in my life. She will always be a part of my life. What’s done in the dark will always come to light,” said Letitia Eskridge.
Antonio Smith was already in custody (in connection with the death of Eddie Powe) at the time charges were filed for the death of Breanna Eskridge.