Victim's family: Victim and accused killer were friends

Published On: Jun 02 2013 09:38:01 AM CDT   Updated On: Jun 04 2013 07:20:58 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

The La Crosse man accused of killing another man during a fight at a Kwik Trip is in police custody.

Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation agents arrested 25-year-old Mitrel Anderson Monday morning in Madison.

Police said he stabbed 24-year-old Demario Lee of Rockford, Ill., in the head during a fight.

It happened at about 3:20 on Sunday morning inside the Kwik Trip convenience store on Cass Street.

Lee was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Lee's uncle, Quartell Roberson, said his nephew and the man arrested for his murder were friends. The two met back in elementary school.

Roberson said that gave the news of Anderson's arrest a bittersweet taste. He said it's more difficult knowing a friend is accused of the crime than if it was a stranger facing charges.

“It makes it even worse to know that it was somebody that he was close to, that he's been knowing for years, since they were even little kids. And I know even recently they've been hanging out and have been cool for a while," said Roberson.

Police said Anderson skipped town with a woman named Brittney Jones.

Now both of them are under arrest.

Police are still figuring out what Jones' relationship is with Anderson.

Through cellphone records, investigators learned Anderson and Jones were in Madison.

The Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and Madison Police found the car Jones was driving at a Madison apartment.

DCI agents arrested Anderson just outside that apartment without incident Monday morning.

The agents found Jones inside the apartment and arrested her as well for aiding and abetting a known felon.

Police say they're still trying to figure out exactly what the weapon was that was used to kill Lee -- and where it is now.

"It created about an inch-and-a-half cut to Mr. Lee's head. So the exact weapon in that we're trying to determine," said La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer.

Police said they're still investigating what started the fight that led to Lee's death.

Even though police have arrested a suspect, they're still asking the public to come forward with any information they have about what happened. Anyone with information can contact police at 608-785-5962 or Crime Stoppers at 608-784-TIPS.

PREVIOUS STORY:

La Crosse police say Mitrel Y. Anderson, the suspect in a homicide case at the the Cass Street Kwik Trip, has been arrested.

Police did not release when or where Anderson was arrested. Police also did not name the law enforcement agency that arrested Anderson.

The call came in at 3:21 a.m. Sunday that a man had been injured during a fight.

It happened inside the Kwik Trip convenience store at 506 Cass St. in La Crosse.

The victim, 24-year-old Demario Lee, was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries, which were caused by what police are calling an "edged weapon."

The victim’s mother, Brandy Williams, said her son traveled from his home in Rockford, Ill., to visit her in La Crosse.

She said Lee went downtown to the bars with his friends last night, went to Kwik Trip after bar time to get a snack, and left in an ambulance.

She was supposed to spend Sunday morning with her son. Instead, she talked to investigators outside the Kwik Trip where he was fatally wounded.

“This is my only son,” said Williams. “It doesn't feel real. Unless you lose a child, I guess you really don't know."

His grandfather Lester Simpson had talked to him just hours before the fight that ended his life.

"I talked to him at about 9 last night and I'm waiting on him to return my call,” said Simpson. “And I have to keep reminding myself that he's not going to call."

Victim: Demario Lee, 24

La Crosse resident Wesley Brandt didn't realize it at the time, but he was one of the last people to see the homicide victim alive.

He'd gone into Kwik Trip to grab some breakfast at about 3:20 Sunday morning before his early shift at work, when he saw something unusual.

"I noticed a group of people, probably five people, in the back kind of by the bathrooms. And there was someone on the ground," said Brandt.

Then he said he saw a Kwik Trip employee come out of the bathroom.

"Her hands were covered in blood," said Brandt.

La Crosse Police Capt. Robert Lawrence said the investigation leads the department to believe this was an isolated crime and there is no known additional threat to public safety.

“Obviously, it's concerning to the La Crosse Police Department and to the La Crosse community that someone who has caused the death of another -- it is very alarming. It is very concerning. But there is nothing that indicates that would happen again today, tonight," said Lawrence.

But that's little comfort to Williams.

"He had a heart, just a big heart. He used to always just hug me and kiss me and [say], 'I love you, Mom,'" said Williams.

Those are words she'll never hear from her son again.

Williams said Lee and Anderson have known each other since elementary school. Williams said Lee leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.

Lawrence said there were several witnesses inside the store during the fight. Investigators spent Sunday interviewing those people.

Police ask anyone who has information about what happened, saw something suspicious, or has a security camera at a nearby home or business that may have captured something to call police at 608-785-5962 or Crime Stoppers at 784-TIPS.