By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A drifter who was sentenced to 55 years in prison for helping to kill a member of her gang and torturing the woman’s 11-year-old son nearly to death was properly convicted, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 4th District Court of Appeals rejected Candice Clark’s arguments that she should be allowed to withdraw her no contest plea because the judge didn’t fully describe her options, a detective threatened her during an interview and her sentence was too harsh.
Clark’s attorney, listed in online court records as David Karpe, didn’t immediately return a message. Clark and her gang’s crimes shook south-central Wisconsin four years ago.
Prosecutors say Clark and her boyfriend, Michael Sisk, led a roving gang of identity thieves to Portage, a city of about 9,700 people 40 miles north of Madison, in February 2007. The group included Clark’s 2-year-old daughter as well as 36-year-old Tammie Garlin, Garlin’s son and her daughter, who was 15. Michaela Clerc, Garlin’s former lover, also was part of the group.
Police searching for Clark’s daughter, whom she had kidnapped from foster parents in Florida, tracked her to the group’s rented house. They discovered the boy, bloody and starving, locked in a closet and his mother buried in a shallow grave in the backyard.
The boy told detectives that everyone in the group except his mother had tortured him, according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors believe the gang turned on Garlin at some point, torturing her alongside her son before they killed her.
According to court documents, Clark told police she whipped the boy with an extension cord, held the bathroom door closed while her boyfriend scalded him and smacked Tammie Garlin.
She and Sisk discussed getting rid of Garlin to keep her quiet about what was going on. After telling Sisk she couldn’t deal with things anymore, Sisk went into a bathroom with Garlin and emerged 10 minutes later, saying either that Garlin was dead or it wouldn’t be long. Clark also said she rode around in a car with Garlin’s body in the trunk and she showed police where the body was buried.
The boy’s sister testified at a preliminary hearing that she helped torture her brother and heard Clark say she was going to bury her brother and mother alive.
Prosecutors filed multiple charges against everyone in the group, including the boy’s sister. Clark eventually pleaded no contest to being a party to second-degree reckless homicide and guilty to a half-dozen other counts, including child abuse. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2008.
Clark, now 27, argued on appeal she should be allowed to withdraw her pleas because Columbia County Circuit Judge Alan White didn’t tell her she could have argued she was a bystander.
Her statements to police should have been suppressed, she said, because she was reacting to a detective who claimed he would make sure she never saw her children again and she was suffering from sleep deprivation, was hungry and hadn’t received her diabetes medication.
She also argued that her sentence was too harsh because the judge improperly focused on her failure to save Garlin and her son.
The appeals court ruled the judge was under no obligation to tell Clark about potential defenses, and even if he was he probably wouldn’t have concluded she was an innocent bystander, the appeals court said.
The detective actually said if it were up to him he would never let Clark see her children again, a “statement of revulsion” rather than a threat, according to the appeals court. Recordings show that Clark wasn’t intimidated by the detective and actually got in several shouting matches with him, the court said. She also never complained about any distress, the appeals court noted.
As for her sentence, the court found White properly focused on Clark’s actual criminal acts and wanted to send a message that people shouldn’t ignore abuse.
Sisk and Clerc were sentenced in their own plea deals. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges against the boy’s sister and moved her into juvenile court, where proceedings are secret.
They should have gotten life with no parole. She’s in prison still doing her dirty deeds from the bars
Candice clark is the most disturbing person I have ever known. She has pictures of her victims in her cell in prison. She talks about her crime and the abuse as if she is reliving it every time she tells her story
Amen Andrea, She steals photos of family members of the other inmates as well. She should not be in a prison around people. She should be locked in facility where she can’t pray on others and steal identities of others. She is still heading her cult from behind those walls and robbing innocent people. She’s the only person I know in prison with a fat money account and hundreds of dollars being put on her account every week. She’s plum crazy and straight up nuts. I believe wisconsin should have the death penalty for people like her. She don’t deserve to be breathing clean air and having the wisconsin working people tax payers to keep her ass supplied three hots and a cot. She should have been to death by beating and torture and strangulation the exact same way She did things. The other sad part to this story is this 11 year old boy that they tortured IS NOW DEAD AS WELL BECAUSE HE COULDN’T GET OVER WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM AND HE JUST FUNCTION IN LIFE. HE HIT 30 YEARS OLD AND TOOK HIS OWN LIFE BECAUSE OF THESE 4 IDIOTS THAT ARE NUTS. I BELIEVE THEY SHOULD NOW BE CHARGED MURDER FOR THIS YPUNG MAN. ITS THEIR FAULT HES GONE. IM ANGRY AT OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM