Lofton Sprouls Murder
Mar 8, 2010 – Madison, WI
Shooting death - attempted robbery 1100 block Moorland Road
Deleon D. Harland (23)
Lofton Sprouls (28)
-A co-defendant, Berry Carr, 23, of Madison, will be sentenced next year on a felony murder conviction. He is serving a federal prison sentence for a separate armed robbery.
A Chicago man was convicted Tuesday of homicide and robbery charges for the shooting death of another man during an attempted robbery last year on Madison's South Side.
Deleon D. Harland, 23, pleaded no contest to first-degree reckless homicide for the shooting death of Lofton Sprouls, 28, outside Sprouls' apartment in the 1100 block of Moorland Road on March 8, 2010.
Harland agreed to a plea deal after his alibi defense fell through last week after Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke allowed the admission of cellphone records showing that Harland was in the area at the time that Sprouls was shot, not on Madison's North Side, as he had claimed.
Harland's trial on charges of first-degree intentional homicide and armed robbery had been scheduled to start next month. He had faced life imprisonment if convicted.
Instead, Harland now faces up to 60 years of combined prison and extended supervision on the reckless homicide conviction and up to 40 years on the armed robbery conviction. Under the plea agreement, Assistant District Attorney Michael Finley said, he will ask that the sentences be served at the same time, though Ehlke is free to sentence Harland however he sees fit.
A co-defendant, Berry Carr, 23, of Madison, will be sentenced next year on a felony murder conviction. He is serving a federal prison sentence for a separate armed robbery.
According to a criminal complaint, Carr told police that he and Harland ran into Sprouls at a gas station and knew he generally had drugs and arranged to meet him at his home on Moorland Road.
But Carr said that Harland shot Sprouls, and Sprouls' friend Kimberly Neuenschwander said that Harland robbed her at gunpoint as she waited in a car outside Sprouls' apartment, the complaint states.
Shooter in 2010 Moorland Road homicide gets 20 years
As Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke talked Friday about the 2010 shooting death of Lofton Sprouls, one word — senseless — kept coming up.
"This case is a senseless tragedy no matter how you look at it," Ehlke said, as he began a statement that would end with him sentencing Deleon D. Harland, 24, of Chicago, to 20 years in prison.
Harland shot Sprouls, 28, to death on March 8, 2010, outside Sprouls' apartment building in the 1100 block of Moorland Road. Assistant District Attorney Michael Finley said Harland had tried to rob Sprouls, who sold small amounts of drugs, but whacked him on the head with a gun he was carrying, then shot Sprouls as he tried to run away.
But afterward, Finley said, Harland was so upset about what had happened that he was seen throwing up.
"We're convinced it wasn't a planned murder," he said, and instead was the result of a robbery that went too far.
Sprouls' death "was totally senseless," Ehlke said. "It should never have happened."
Harland was originally charged with first-degree intentional homicide but in December pleaded no contest to first-degree reckless homicide as part of a plea agreement. He also pleaded no contest to armed robbery for robbing Sprouls' friend moments earlier.
Ehlke went along with Finley's recommendation and sentenced Harland to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years of extended supervision, on both convictions, to be served concurrently.
"I'm sorry that the incident happened," Harland said. He told Ehlke that he has struggled with substance abuse problems that have ruled his life following an upbringing in Chicago that often left him to fend for himself.
"I'm not no monster," he said. "I'm not no murderer. I'm not no killer. I just made the wrong decision."
But others in the courtroom, including Sprouls' stepbrother, were not convinced of that.