MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee County judge sentenced 35-year-old Antonio Smith to life in prison without a chance for extended supervision on Tuesday, July 18th. This, in the wake of his convictions for killing Breanna Eskridge and Eddie Powe in July 2015. It's the justice two families have been waiting for.
Prosecutors say Smith concocted a devious plot where two lives were lost -- and a third was nearly taken. In court during his sentencing hearing, he showed no remorse.
"I made a very poor decision by taking a plea and admitting to something I still say I did not do," Smith said.
Smith pleaded guilty in February to a charge of first degree intentional homicide in this case. A charge of felon in possession of a firearm was dismissed and read into the court record as part of that February plea deal.
When announcing his life sentence, Judge M. Joseph Donald called Smith "a very dangerous individual."
In the case involving the death of Eskridge, prosecutors say Smith was trying to get rid of witnesses to a prior murder.
According to a 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.”
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 was also sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison without a chance for extended supervision for the death of Powe.
Lastly, Smith was sentenced to 40 years in prison and 20 years of extended supervision for plotting to kill a witness to the Powe homicide. 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 court made a point of saying the sentences in each of the three cases handled on Tuesday will all be served consecutively.
Eskridge's mother, Letitia Eskridge said she never thought Smith would apologize for taking her daughter's life. On Tuesday, she focused on the life sentence handed down by the judge.
"Overjoyed. Satisfied. Complete that this is all over with. He's an evil person. He's a very dark person and you can see it," Letitia Eskridge said.
For the families of Breanna Eskridge and Eddie Powe, the past two years have brought pain.
"You can never get over losing a child, let alone a child to murder -- a kid who still had life in her, who was just starting to live her life," Letitia Eskridge said.
"Eddie, Breanna, they were looking down on us," Lakesha Kilbert, Powe's sister said.
"I don't know what tomorrow may bring, but I know today justice has been served," Letitia Eskridge said.
Wednesday, July 19th marks the two-year anniversary of Eskridge's death. Family members said they'll be together for a balloon release in her honor.
As for McClelland, she pleaded guilty to one count of second degree reckless homicide, as party to a crime in June of 2016. In February of 2017, she was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison and eight years extended supervision.