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Man accused of killing 17-year-old after she witnessed boyfriend’s murder reaches plea deal

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MILWAUKEE — The man accused of killing 17-year-old Breanna Eskridge reached a plea deal Wednesday, February 22nd.

35-year-old Antonio Smith pleaded guilty to charges in connection with three open cases on Wednesday.

Antonio Smith

Antonio Smith

The first was filed in July of 2015. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of first degree intentional homicide, penalties for Class A felony, use of a dangerous weapon (felony 5+ years). Eight other charges were dismissed. This case involved the death of Eddie Powe.

The second case was filed in November of 2015. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. One other charge was dismissed.

The third case was filed in March of 2016. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of first degree intentional homicide as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon. One other charge was dismissed.

In the case involving the death of Breanna Eskridge, prosecutor say Smith was trying to get rid of witnesses to a prior murder.

According to a criminal complaint, Breanna Eskridge was present when Eddie Powe was shot and killed on W. Port Sunlight Way on July 11th, 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.

Breanna Eskridge

Breanna Eskridge

Wynette McClelland

Wynette McClelland

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.

 

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.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on April 28th.

McClelland has pleaded guilty to one count of second degree reckless homicide. She’ll be sentenced on February 28th.