What happened to paying your debt to society? He did the crime, he did the time, sounds to me like he’s trying to make something of himself. Let the man move on. I applaud the sheriff for giving Macias a chance.

Wisconsin sheriff defends hiring of convicted killer
By Gina Barton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Today at 12:24 p.m.

The sheriff in Wisconsin’s Sheboygan County is standing by his decision to hire a convicted killer as a radio technician, despite questions in the community about whether it is appropriate for someone with that type of record to be working for law enforcement.

“I’m not going to throw him under the bus. I take responsibility for bringing him on,” Sheriff Todd Priebe said of the technician, Rafael George Macias. “If I had known the gruesome details, I may not have taken him on, but what he brings to our agency is nothing but positive.”

Macias was 20 and an airman at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas when he pleaded guilty to killing and dismembering his live-in girlfriend, Julia Adams, also 20, in 1977, according to news reports from the time. Police linked Macias to the crime after he reported her missing, the reports say.

Macias later told police he strangled Adams out of jealousy and put her body into a bathtub, cut it in half with a hacksaw and stuffed it into an Air Force packing crate. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison but was released after 13 after being given credit for good behavior.

Reached Wednesday, Macias, now 59, told the Journal Sentinel he argued with the woman and killed her in a “fit of rage.”

“There isn’t a day I don’t regret it. There’s no excuse,” he said. “You just learn with experience, learn with age that life is short and life is precious.”

Through his Catholic faith, anger management counseling and growing up, he has become a different man in the 40 years since then, Macias said.

“The thing about it is, I’ve always had respect for law enforcement,” he said. “This is my way of paying back society. I’m still paying it back by using my skills to maintain the radio system that protects the public.”

Priebe said Macias had been working on the sheriff’s office radio system as contractor for about 10 years before Priebe took office and hired him in 2011. Macias was upfront about his conviction when he was approached about the job, Priebe said. He was not asked about the details at the time.

When someone within the office brought the dismemberment to Priebe’s attention about six months ago, he was “shocked,” the sheriff said. But by then, Macias had proved himself as a trusted employee.

“At no time do I want anybody to be led to believe that I condone what he did. I don’t condone any of that,” Priebe said Wednesday. “It’s horrible. I can’t imagine. It’s just horrific. But at the same time, I think he’s very very grateful that he’s been given a second chance. He wants to prove to himself and others his wasn’t a wasted life.”

As a radio technician, Macias is not a sworn law enforcement officer; he would be precluded from serving in that capacity because federal law prohibits felons from possessing guns.

While in prison at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Macias earned his associate degree as a radio technician. Before his release in 1990, he achieved the status of level one trusty, which gave him access to a vehicle and an unarmed supervisor, Priebe said.

After he left prison, Macias got a job with a radio manufacturer, which chose to hire him after he was interviewed by the FBI about his background, Priebe said.

Originally from Indiana, Macias later got a job with a now-defunct company that held the contract to service the police radios for both the Sheboygan police department and sheriff’s office, Priebe said.

When Priebe took office in 2011, the sheriff’s office was paying $100,000 a year for radio maintenance. He decided to hire Macias both to save money and to ensure their equipment would be kept up in the future, Priebe said.

Late last month, an anonymous source leaked the information about Macias’ background to media outlets including the Journal Sentinel and WISN radio host Mark Belling, who first reported it earlier this week.

“It is being discussed among law enforcement throughout Sheboygan County,” the letter says. “Many find it unacceptable they are now forced to work side by side with someone who committed such a horrible crime.”

Sheboygan County’s law committee has since requested Priebe to meet with them to discuss the circumstances of Macias’ hiring, which he plans to do, Priebe said. However, the committee does not have the authority to overrule his decision to continue Macias’ employment.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a success story,” the sheriff said.

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