SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin sheriff has defended his decision to hire a man convicted of killing and dismembering his girlfriend nearly 40 years ago in Texas.
Rafael George Macias has worked as a radio technician for the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department since 2011 after performing similar duties as a contract employee for 10 years.
Macias was a 20-year-old airman at Carswell Air Force Base in North Texas when he pleaded guilty to killing and dismembering his live-in girlfriend, Julia Adams, in 1977. Macias was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but released after 13 years.
While at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Macias earned an associate degree as a radio technician. He eventually moved to Wisconsin and ended up working at his cousin’s radio shop.
Macias told The Associated Press on Thursday that he never lied about his past and was upfront with Sheriff Todd Priebe when he wanted to bring him on as a regular employee. Details of the case resurfaced when an anonymous letter was sent recently to media outlets, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, questioning why Sheboygan County employees had to work with someone who committed such a horrible crime.
Macias said he’s not sure what the motivation was in bringing up his crime to the media, but knows he has Priebe’s support.
“You can’t change what happened. It happened,” Macias said. “What you can do is change what you do in the future and don’t put your life to waste.”
Priebe said Macias has proven himself as a trusted employee and is a rehabilitation “success story.”
Macias said through faith, anger management counseling and maturity he has become a better man.
“As far as I’m concerned, that guy is dead,” Macias said referring to his younger self, adding, “It was a fit of rage.”
Priebe said he will meet with the county board’s law committee at its request to discuss the hiring, but the committee does not have the authority to overrule his decision.