In first phase of trial, jury finds man guilty of hate crime killing of white motorcyclist

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 3:04 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 3:22 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A jury has found a man guilty in the hate crime killing of a white motorcyclist in Fond du Lac County.

After a short deliberation Wednesday, the jurors came back and found Daniel Navarro guilty of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide - Hate Crime - Use of a Dangerous Weapon in the death of Phillip A. Thiessen.

This is the first phase of the trial. In the second phase, jurors will address Navarro’s plea of not guilty by mental disease or defect and if he had the mental capacity at the time to be held responsible for the crime.

Navarro took the witness stand Wednesday. He was the only witness called by the defense.

On July 3, 2020, Navarro intentionally swerved his truck into Thiessen’s motorcycle on Winnebago Drive because Navarro believed Harley-Davidson riders to be “white racists,” according to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, the jury spent more than 3.5 hours watching an interview with detectives and Navarro just two hours after the crash.

Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office Det. Michelle Fink testified Tuesday about what they found on Navarro’s electronic devices. In the months leading up to the crash, Navarro searched videos on car and motorcycle crashes.

Det. Ryan Murphy led the interview with Navarro. He testified about Navarro’s admission to intentionally striking Thiessen’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Navarro said he believed white men were poisoning him and stalking him because he’s Mexican. Navarro stated that he decided to kill Thiessen because he believed Harley riders to be white men and that would send a message to the men he believed to be poisoning him.

NAVARRO: “I didn’t have any other option. I did what had to be done. Why did it have to be done? I just don’t know what else to do.”

MURPHY: “So you intentionally swerved?”

NAVARRO: “I just couldn’t let these guys do what they did.”

Victim Phillip A. Thiessen was a 1983 graduate of L.P. Goodrich High School, was a Marine and later a police officer in Fairfax, Va. Later, Thiessen worked for the Wisconsin Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children unit. He had retired and was living in Fond du Lac.

Thiessen’s daughter was the first witness to take the stand Monday. Maeghan Greeno told the jury about her father’s years of service in law enforcement. He was a police officer and also served with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Greeno said when she heard about the crash and couldn’t get in touch with her father, she had a bad feeling.

“I knew it was him. My family was in the car, including my son. My dad was his hero. He wanted to be him. They were inseparable and I had to lie to him all the way home telling him grandpa was fine and that there was a police officer following us home because they were going to help us find grandpa,” said Greeno.

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