UPDATE: Wis. Court Upholds Conviction in Torture Case

UPDATED Thursday, September 29, 2011 --- 9:39 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state appeals court says a woman accused of helping her gang of identity thieves kill a woman and torturing the woman's son was properly convicted.

Columbia County prosecutors accused Candice Clark of helping kill Tammie Garlin and torturing Garlin's young son nearly to death. Clark was sentenced to 55 years in prison in 2008 after reaching a plea deal on multiple charges.

She argued on appeal the judge never told her she could have argued she was a bystander in Garlin's death, a detective threatened her during an interview and her sentence was too harsh.

The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled the judge didn't have to inform Clark about potential defenses, the detective didn't threaten her and the sentence was appropriate.

Clark's attorney didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, December 30, 2008 --- 12:25 p.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A drifter convicted of helping his gang kill a woman and torture her young son is sentenced to 58 years in prison.

Columbia County Circuit Judge Alan White sentenced 27-year-old Michael Sisk on a host of charges Tuesday, including second-degree reckless homicide.

Prosecutors say Sisk helped his gang murder Tammie Garlin in June 2007 and torture Garlin's 11-year-old son. Police found the boy locked in a closet and Garlin's body in a shallow grave behind the gang's rented house in Portage.

Sisk pleaded guilty to some charges and no contest to others in August but tried unsuccessfully to back out of his plea deal earlier this month. He claimed he hadn't understood he faced more than 136 years in prison.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, December 30, 2008 --- 10:10 a.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- One of the most horrific criminal cases southern Wisconsin has seen is about to end.

The last member of a gang of drifters accused of killing a woman and torturing her young son nearly to death in a Portage rental home will be sentenced this morning.

Twenty-seven-year-old Michael Sisk faces up to 136 years in prison when he goes before Columbia County Circuit Judge Alan J. White.

Prosecutors say Sisk helped his gang murder Tammie Garlin in June 2007 and torture Garlin's 11-year-old son. Police found the boy locked in a closet and Garlin's body in a shallow grave behind the gang's house.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 17, 2008 --- 11:30 a.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A judge has refused to allow an alleged gang leader convicted of helping his crew kill a woman and torture her young son to back out of his plea deal.

Twenty-six-year-old Michael Sisk was convicted in August of second-degree reckless homicide and other charges after entering guilty, no contest or Alford pleas. In an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty but doesn't acknowledge guilt.

Sisk testified Wednesday, saying he thought he would be spared a life sentence but now realizes he could spend his life behind bars.

Sisk says he was tired of thinking about the case and wanted to finish it. He says the total years involved in his sentence didn't register with him until later.

Columbia County Circuit Judge Alan White ruled Sisk understood what he was doing.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, December 16, 2008 --- 11:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A gang leader accused of helping kill a woman and torture her young son in Portage wants to back out of his plea deal and go to trial.

Twenty-six-year-old Michael Sisk was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and nine other charges in August after pleading guilty or no contest to them.

Sisk says in court documents that he thought the plea deal would spare him life in prison.

But he now realizes he'll still serve what amounts to a life sentence. He also says he felt pressured and was mentally exhausted when he entered his pleas and insists he's innocent.

Sisk is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 30. A hearing has been set for Wednesday morning in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, November 10, 2008 --- 5:15 p.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A woman convicted for her role in a torture and murder case has been sentenced to 55 years behind bars.

Twenty-four-year-old Candace L. Clark pleaded no contest to being party to second-degree reckless homicide and guilty to charges including child abuse.

Clark's sentence Monday included 45 years of extended supervision. She'll be eligible to apply for early release after serving about 47 years.

Clark was among those charged in the death of 36-year-old Tammie Garlin, whose body was found buried last year behind a rented Portage home. At the same time, Garlin's then-11-year-old son was found naked, severely beaten and burned in a locked closet.

Clark's attorney did not immediately return a message Monday afternoon.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, November 10, 2008 --- 3:35 p.m.

Update from NBC15 Chris Papst:

Candace Clark was sentenced to 55 years incarceration, and 45 years extended supervision. After 85% of her incarceration, she can apply for early release.

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At 1:00 p.m., a sentencing hearing will resume for Candace Clark. She was involved in the 2007 murder of Tammie Garlin and the severe abuse of Garlin's then 11-year-old son.

Several doctors testified earlier today it was the worst abuse they've ever seen. The prosecution is still calling witnesses. Candace Clark is also expected to read a statement in court today.

Clark pleaded no contest to being party to second degree reckless homicide, as well as other charges.

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UPDATED Sunday, November 9, 2008 --- 2:10 p.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) --- A woman is set to be sentenced Monday in Portage for helping her gang of drifters kill a woman and torture a young boy.

Twenty-four-year-old Candace Clark pleaded no contest in July to being party to second-degree reckless homicide. She also pleaded either guilty or no contest to a host of other charges.

Investigators say Clark and her boyfriend, Michael Sisk, led a gang of identity thieves that crisscrossed the country. They say both of them had a hand in the 2007 death of Tammie Garlin, another gang member, and severely abused Garlin's 11-year-old son.

Sisk pleaded guilty or no contest to a host of charges in August.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 --- 8:05 p.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- The sentencing hearing for a woman in a Portage torture and murder case has been delayed from Friday until Nov. 4 to allow the defense lawyer more time to study a presentence investigation.

Candace Clark pleaded no contest to being party to second-degree reckless homicide and guilty to being party to false imprisonment, child abuse and related charges.

The 24-year-old Clark was among those charged in the death of 36-year-old Tammie Garlin, whose body was found in June 2007 buried behind the home the group of drifters had rented.

Other charges involve Garlin's son, then 11, who was found naked, severely beaten and burned in a locked closet.

Twenty-six-year-old Michael Sisk is to be sentenced Nov. 10.

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UPDATED Sunday, October 5, 2008 --- 1:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) --- A drifter accused of helping her gang torture an 11-year-old boy and kill his mother is set to be sentenced this week.

Twenty-four-year-old Candace Clark faces nearly 130 years in prison when she goes before Judge Alan J. White in Portage on Friday.

Clark and her gang moved across the country stealing people's identities.

Police caught up to them in Portage, where they discovered the boy locked naked in a closet in the gang's rented house. He had been severely abused. They found his mother, Tammie Garlin, buried in the backyard.

Clark pleaded no contest to being a party to reckless homicide and guilty to being a party to child abuse and other related charges.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 -- 5:20 pm
By Zac Schultz

Portage: Michaela Clerc spent most of the morning with her head down, her large curls hiding her face. It was only when she spoke that it was clear she had been crying. "I do understand I need to go to prison."

Clerc is the first of three adults to be sentenced for their roles in a gruesome murder and torture case uncovered in Portage in June of 2007. She received 37 years in prison, followed by 25 years of extended supervision.

Inside a rented home in Portage, police discovered Candace Clark and Michael Sisk had murdered their companion Tammie Garlin, and along with Clerc they tortured Garlin's 11 year old son, identified as A.G.

Clerc pleaded guilty in February to mayhem, child abuse and two other charges for her role in abusing A.G.

A.G. was beaten with electrical cords, burned with scalding water, starved, kicked and locked in a closet.

"The best visual picture to give would be to have you think of a concentration camp victim who was still incarcerated," says Dr. Barbara Knox, the Medical Director of UW's Child Protection Program.

Doctors say A.G. was near death, the burns to his hands and feet so severe the bones were no longer connected. "He has had amputations of several of the toes of his left foot, and the tips of his fingers of his right hand," says Dr. Gary Williams, A.G.'s pediatrician.

A psychiatrist testified A.G. suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks and nightmares.

The 12 year old A.G. did appear in court. At first glance he looks like a normal child. But his doctors say he will carry these physical and emotional scars with him for the rest of his life. "I have never seen a child that has been so physically and mentally damaged that has survived," says Dr. Knox.

Andrew Voigt, A.G.'s guardian ad litem, read a letter in which the boy asked the judge to sentence Michaela to 124 years in prison. "I want Michelle to go to jail for helping kill my mom. I want her to have a bad life in jail. I want Michelle to have no fun while she is in jail."

Judge Alan White sentenced Clerc to 37 years in prison, with another 25 years of extended supervision. "This is the most egregious injuries that I have ever seen."

Candace Clark will be sentenced in October. The sentencing date for Michael Sisk has not been set.

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 9, 2008 --- 1 p.m.

Michaela Clerc has been sentenced to 37 years in prison for her part in the high-profile murder and abuse case in Portage last June. The maximum sentence would have been 45 years.

Clerc was sentenced to an additional 25 years of extended supervision after she is released.

The 21-year-old woman was part of a group of drifters who murdered a woman who lived with them, and then buried her body behind their rented house in Portage. They also tortured the woman's then-11-year-old son. Court records show they scalded him with hot water, whipped him, starved him, and locked him in a closet in the house.

At today's sentencing, Judge Alan White said of the boy's wounds that they were the most egregious injuries he had ever seen.

Those who testified on the now-12-year-old's behalf echoed White's sentiments.

Both the boy's pediatrician and UW Hospital's Director of Child Protection Program testified that the boy has had extensive plastic surgery as a result of the abuse, and that he will have life-long trauma -- both physical and mental.

According to his doctors, the boy needed to have the tips of three toes on left foot amputated, and he also lost the tips of 4 fingers on his right hand.

A child psychiatrist testified the boy still suffers flashbacks, and Post-traumatic stress disorder, and will "need care for a very long time."

The boy prepared a statement which his court-appointed guardian read at the sentencing. In it, the boy asked that Michaela Clerc receive 124 years in prison, and said he was angry at her for "helping kill my mom" and for abusing him.

Investigators say Clerc roamed the country with a band of identity thieves that included the boy, his sister and their mother.

Click HERE for past developments in this case

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 2, 2008 --- 7:35 a.m.

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- Officials estimate a savings of nearly $64,000 for Columbia County because of plea deals reached for two key defendants in a Portage murder and abuse case.

Jury trials for Candace Clark and Michael Sisk had been scheduled for July and August and were expected to be two of the largest in county history.

But both defendants accepted plea agreements.

Clerk of Courts Susan Raimer says that avoided an estimated cost of just under $64,000 in juror expenses.

The two were charged last summer with killing Tammie Garlin and abusing her then-11-year-old son.

The 24-year-old Clark accepted a plea agreement in July and is scheduled to be sentenced October. 10th. The 26-year-old Sisk accepted a plea deal August 6th and does not have a sentencing date set yet.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, August 6 --- 7:00pm

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- A 26-year-old man was found guilty of a lesser charge of second-degree reckless homicide under a deal reached Wednesday with prosecutors in one of the most horrific cases ever to hit south-central Wisconsin.

Michael Sisk faces up to 136 years and three months in prison after being found guilty of 10 charges. He had been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing 36-year-old Tammie Garlin.

Sisk could have been sentenced to life in prison but under the lesser charge he faces only up to 25 years behind bars.

Under the deal, only one charge of child enticement was dismissed. Under the others he either pleaded guilty or no contest. On the homicide charge, he entered what is known as an Alford plea, which means he did not admit guilt but said the prosecution has enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

Columbia County Circuit Judge Alan White found him guilty.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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UPDATE: Thursday, July 3, 2008 --- 12:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A drifter has pleaded no contest to helping kill a member of her gang in the southern Wisconsin city of Portage.

Candace Clark, 24, was scheduled to go to trial Monday on charges she helped kill Tammie Garlin and abused Garlin's 11-year-old son. Police found the boy in a closet in the gang's rental house in Portage last year and Garlin's body buried in the backyard.

Columbia County Clerk of Courts Susan Raimer says Clark has pleaded no contest to second-degree reckless homicide, reduced from being party to first-degree intentional homicide.

She also pleaded no contest to being party to contributing to the delinquency of a child. She pleaded guilty to being a party to mayhem, child enticement, child abuse, causing mental harm to a child and false imprisonment.

District Attorney Jane Kohlwey dropped charges of hiding a corpse, another count of false imprisonment and battery. Clark's attorney, David Geier, didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted December 14, 2007

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) -- The leader of a gang of drifters and his girlfriend are both pleading not guilty to charges they killed one of their own, buried her and tortured her son.

Michael Sisk and Candace Clark both face a litany of charges including being a party to murder, hiding a corpse and child abuse.

Both appeared in court Friday via video conference from jail.

Clark's attorney David Geier entered not guilty pleas for her on all counts.

Sisk's attorney Ronald Benavides did likewise.

Mark Frank, the attorney for a third member of the gang, Michaela Clerc, appeared with her via video conference as well. A judge entered not guilty pleas for her after Frank said she was standing mute.

AP