Aliyah Perez “brought an abundance of love, laughter and light to the world,” the 26-year-old woman’s family wrote in her obituary. Perez, the niece of Milwaukee Common Council President Jose Perez was found dead near 26th St. and Clayton Crest Ave. on Sunday, Feb 26 — a victim of domestic abuse, her family said.
But the young woman might very well be alive today had liberal Milwaukee County judge and Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz not set Perez’s killer free.
Protasiewicz has been accused by her opponent, conservative former Justice Daniel Kelly, of being “soft-on-crime.” As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, on at least three occasions Milwaukee County prosecutors have asked Protasiewicz to sentence felons to prison for harming a child. Each time, the judge rejected the request, granting time served and probation.
She did the same in the case of Elijah Combs.
A Dangerous Man
Elijah Combs, 28, is dead now. The convicted felon died from a self-inflected gunshot wound on Feb. 28 after a police chase and crash on Milwaukee’s south side. Police say Combs fled on foot, shot at police and then turned the gun on himself.
He was wanted in connection with the murder of Aliyah Perez, and considered a primary suspect in what has been described as a domestic dispute.
Combs had been involved in at least one prior brutal domestic assault case, according to court records.
In 2016, he was charged with four felonies related to the battery and strangulation of his girlfriend at the time. Combs was charged with substantial battery-with intent to cause bodily harm; strangulation and suffocation; false imprisonment; and intimidation of a witness — all felonies.
The victim said Combs punched her repeatedly in the face, cutting her lip, breaking her tooth, and causing bruising and swelling.
“The defendant then strangled her again in the bathroom to the point where she could not breathe or talk. The defendant also pushed and kicked and stomped on (victim’s name redacted) all over her body.”
Combs pulled out patches of the woman’s hair, according to police.
He then ordered his victim to clean up the blood splattered throughout the area, the report states. Combs demanded she lay with him on the bed. She did so out of fear, according to the complaint.
The victim estimated the assault lasted about twenty minutes. She said Combs told her he would “end it” if she went to the police. She told officers that she believed Combs would try to kill her.
Stayed and Dismissed
Combs went before Judge Janet Protasiewicz, now the liberal candidate for a nationally watched Wisconsin Supreme Court race.
Hearing all of the evidence against Combs, Protasiewicz dismissed three of the four felony charges, leaving only the battery count. Protasiewicz sentenced Combs to the maximum term of six years on that count, but stayed the sentence and placed him on probation for three years
The judge continued to go easy on Combs even after he was subsequently charged with felony bail jumping.
Protasiewicz could have handed Combs a maximum sentence of nearly 30 years in prison had she not dismissed the other charges — ranging from six to 10 years — and stayed the substantial battery sentence.
Combs might still be in prison today.
Aliyah Perez might still be alive today.
“Aliyah, now our sweet Angel, will be forever missed and far from forgotten,” her obituary states. “We will continue to love and cherish everything you were as we hold you close to our broken hearts. May your light continue to guide us through the darkest of days.”
Her uncle, Milwaukee Common Council President Jose Perez, did not return a call seeking comment. He did issue a statement last week about the loss of his “beautiful niece to domestic violence.”
“The sorrow and pain of losing her has been one of the most difficult things my family and I have ever experienced,” Perez said.
‘Rule of Law’
Protasiewicz’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Wisconsin Daily Star. Sam Roecker, a spokesman for Protasiewicz, has told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her critics are cherry-picking her cases as a judge.
“Right-wing special interests are misleading voters because they want to keep an extreme, out-of-touch right-wing majority on the bench,” Roecker told the publication, referring to the April 4 election that will decide whether conservatives or liberals control the state’s high court.
Kelly, receiving the endorsement of the Milwaukee Police Association on Tuesday, criticized Protasiewicz for returning “dangerous people back to society while law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to keep their communities safe.”
He pointed to multiple serious criminal cases in which Protasiewicz did not order prison time, including the case of a woman who starved her 16-year-old son to death. The teen was so severely malnourished he weighed just 42 pounds at the time of his death.
“The men and women of the Milwaukee Police Association know that we must not allow the Rule of Law to be replaced by the Rule of Janet,” Kelly said in a statement.
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