Local law enforcement and leaders of the Hmong community in Wausau are working toward fixing their relationship ahead of the sentencing of Dylan Yang on Wednesday. In 2015, Yang fatally stabbed Isaiah Powell in the back, and while he was found guilty back in March, the handling of the case led some in the Hmong community to believe that racism could have played a part in his treatment.
Hmong American Center Board President Kham Yang spoke with WAOW Newsline 9. “There’s a lot of information being passed out that didn’t come directly from the police department or the district attorney, so a lot of people made assumptions about the case,” said Kham.
This included Yang being tried in an adult court as a 15-year-old. As the police department explained, Wisconsin law dictates that anyone over the age of 10 starts in adult court when they are charged with a homicide and race would not play into that decision. Dylan’s former attorney, Jay Kronenwetter, told Newsline 9 that Yang himself requested a jury trial and did not ask to be moved to juvenile court.
While the meeting didn’t solve all of the problems in one go, Kham Yang said it’s a step in the right direction. “Law enforcement, they have a job to do, too. At the same time, they have to be fair to all residents,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s better, but we hope that it would improve.”
Dylan Yang could be sentenced to 60 years in prison.