Stories For June 2015


A Beloit man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday, more than 1,500 days after he was charged in the June 2015 stabbing death of his roommate.

Percy L. Oliver, 73, pleaded no contest May 30 to a charge of second-degree reckless homicide.

He appeared Thursday before Rock County Judge Michael Haakenson, who sentenced him to 15 years in prison with 10 years post-release supervision. Oliver’s defense had asked for five years in prison and 10 years of supervision.

Oliver’s mental and physical health had delayed the case, with the court ordering a half-dozen competency evaluations. Mental health experts delivered opinions Oliver was feigning memory issues and physical disability.

On the night of June 20, 2015, Oliver argued with and stabbed roommate David Banks, 51, according to the criminal complaint. He locked Banks in a closet, where he died from his injuries.

Oliver then threw Banks’ body from the apartment’s fire escape multiple stories up. Police later recovered a kitchen knife in the home, and tests showed Oliver’s DNA on the knife’s handle and Banks’ blood on the blade, according to court records.

In court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan ran through the list of Oliver’s convictions before the 2015 homicide. According to the presentence investigation, Oliver was convicted of 13 felonies and seven misdemeanors since 1963, including crimes of attempted murder and sexual assault of a child.

“We are here because of his choices, and yet in his 70s, he refuses to take responsibility for his actions,” Sullivan said.

Defense attorney Walter Isaacson said Oliver and Banks had a “humane relationship” but said Sullivan had rightly pointed out Oliver’s crimes. Isaacson said Oliver’s physical health has declined since 2015.

When given time to speak, Oliver mumbled to the point where Haakenson had to leave the bench and approach the defense table. Oliver’s comments were wide-ranging, culminating with him denying that he had killed Banks.

According to court records, Oliver told Overflowing Cup pastor William “Butch” Martin of an argument the pair had a night prior to the homicide. Oliver called Martin and explained that the argument was caused by Banks’ sexual advances on him. When asked by Martin where Banks was, Oliver responded, “In the closet.”

Haakenson said the maximum sentence was appropriate because he found the evidence “overwhelming.”

Oliver has 20 days to appeal Thursday’s decision, Haakenson said.

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