Murder suspect has violent history
There will be no bail for Christopher Ledesma, the man suspected of murdering 19-year-old Kelly Dahm in the parking lot of the St. Croix County Government Center on Sept. 20.
According to Mike O'Keefe, the Wisconsin Corrections field supervisor in Hudson, his office has already begun the process of revoking Ledesma's 10-year probation based on his alleged possession of a gun, a weapon he is suspected of using in the homicide.
"As a convicted felon, he cannot possess any firearm. This is a violation of the conditions of his probation and regardless of what happens with the charges he is facing, we are proceeding with the revocation process, which means he will not be released. Our process will ensure that," said O'Keefe.
Ledesma, now 29, pleaded no contest in October 1996 to first-degree reckless injury for stabbing three people during an altercation at the Apple River Hideaway Campground in Somerset in June of that year. He was 16 years old at the time, but was tried as an adult due to the severity of the crime and the injuries he caused.
He was sentenced to six years in prison and served a little more than three years, the most allowed by law at the time. During the course of his sentence, he spent time in the Dodge correctional facility for younger offenders, the Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution and McNaughton, a minimum security facility.
He was released from prison in May 2000 and began his 10 years of probation. The conditions of the probation included no possession of weapons of any kind, no consumption of drugs or alcohol, no entrance into bars or liquor stores, and the requirement that he must get a job.
O'Keefe said Ledesma reported to the probation office in St. Croix County upon his release and signed off on the conditions of his probation. But because he planned to return to Minnesota, where he had lived prior to the conviction, he was assigned a probation officer there as part of an interstate agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin. He was required to make regular contact with his probation officer in the Twin Cities, and the St. Croix County office received a status report annually.
O'Keefe said Ledesma had no significant violations during the last seven years of his probation, according to records.
O'Keefe said events like Dahm's murder, allegedly at the hands of a former boyfriend, should raise the community's awareness of consequences of domestic violence.
"What happened here is tragic and unnecessary. We need to find ways to end the cycle of violence in cases like this and give victims the help and support to get out of these relationships safely."
O'Keefe acknowledged that break-ups like the one reported between Ledesma and Dahm can be the most dangerous period for victims of domestic violence. Safeguards that can reduce the risk include meeting in a public place with lots of people around and having someone along as a witness.
O'Keefe said domestic violence continues to be one of the most under-reported crimes.
"It is very difficult for the victims. So often after the violence occurs, the person who does it seems genuinely sorry and promises never to do it again. Those are generally promises that are never kept."
O'Keefe recommends that anyone who believes they are a victim of domestic violence or knows someone who is should contact Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence in River Falls. The organization provides emergency shelter as well as counseling and support to victims and their families.
To reach Turningpoint, call (715) 425-6751 or visit www.turningpoint-wi.org. Turningpoint cautions that if people are in danger, they should get to a safe computer (away from home), call 911, Turningpoint or the National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-SAFE (7233).