‘Total indifference to human life’: Judge sentences Green Bay man to life in prisoni

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GREEN BAY – A Green Bay man will spend life in prison with no possibility of parole for the 2020 murder of his girlfriend’s brother.

Marcus Stokes, 36, was sentenced Friday morning. He was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and possessing a firearm as a felon after a jury trial in July. This was Stokes’ second trial, after a mistrial in September 2022.

Stokes is convicted of killing Calvin Barber Jr., a 38-year-old Green Bay man, in March 2020. Stokes’ girlfriend at the time, Barber’s sister, found Barber dead in their shared apartment after Stokes messaged her about her brother’s apartment being robbed, according to the criminal complaint.

At Stokes’ sentencing, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Donald Zuidmulder said that during Stokes’ first trial, the defense argued that there was no reason for Stokes to kill Barber — something the judge said made him believe this was “a cold-blooded murder.”

“It’s the total indifference to human life. It’s like swatting a fly,” Zuidmulder said.

Despite the jury verdicts, Stokes maintains his innocence.

“For the most part, Calvin was a friend. You could say a brother,” Stokes said at his sentencing. “… This is something I would not have done to him.”

Brown County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Gereau said Stokes fails to take accountability and shows no remorse.

Both Gereau and Stokes’ former girlfriend — who, in a victim impact statement, shared how devasting the loss of her brother was and how it caused emotional turmoil for her and her children — asked Zuidmulder to give Stokes the harshest available punishment, life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Stokes’ public defender, Michael Covey, petitioned Zuidmulder to consider a parole eligibility date in 2040, arguing it would provide incentive for Stokes to show good behavior while incarcerated.

“You might not think, looking at Mr. Stokes, that he deserves mercy. But the person that he may be in 2040, or 2045, could be very deserving of that second chance,” Covey said.

However, Zuidmulder pointed that it was difficult for him to identify mitigating factors to the crime, because Stokes refused to allow an officer to complete a pre-sentence investigation.

On the morning of March 24, 2020, a 911 call brought police to an apartment in the 2200 block of Imperial Lane in Green Bay, where they found Barber dead. An autopsy found he died of a single gunshot wound.

Stokes’ girlfriend told investigators she and Stokes had gotten into an argument the previous night. She then left to sleep at a friend’s house, and Stokes and Barber stayed at the apartment that night, according to a criminal complaint.

The woman said Stokes texted and called her multiple times throughout the night and morning, but she ignored them. Sometime during the morning of March 24, Stokes sent messages that said “911” and mentioned the apartment being robbed, the complaint says. When the woman returned to the apartment, she found Barber dead.

Investigators received a tip that Stokes was hiding in a Green Bay hotel and then tracked his cellphone to Milwaukee.

A witness in Milwaukee told police that Stokes told her he had left the Green Bay apartment after getting into the argument with his girlfriend, then returned in the morning to find the door unlocked and his girlfriend’s brother dead. She said Stokes told her robbers “took the guns and broke the safe” and killed the man, the complaint says.

Another witness told police she drove Stokes to a Green Bay motel in the early mornings hours of March 24 after he showed up at her house around 3 a.m., the complaint says. The witness said Stokes got out of the vehicle twice during that trip. Near one of the locations he exited the vehicle, inthe 1700 block of Lost Lane, investigators found parts of Stokes’ girlfriend’s gun, according to the complaint.

Experts at the Wisconsin crime lab determined the bullet that killed Barber came from that gun, the complaint says.

During a search of the apartment, investigators found a gun safe that was open. Stokes’ girlfriend told investigators only she and Stokes knew the code to the safe, according to the complaint.

Stokes had pending charges, including for domestic abuse battery and manufacturing with intent to deliver heroin, that attorneys filed motions to dismiss due to the outcome of his life sentence.

Covey indicated that Stokes will try to appeal his conviction.

RELATED: Green Bay man faces life sentence after jury finds him guilty of killing girlfriend’s brother

More: Outagamie County treatment courts not a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card; they replace punishment with rehabilitiation

Contact Kelli Arseneau at 920-213-3721 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @ArseneauKelli.

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This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Green Bay man gets life in prison for murder of girlfriend’s brother

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