Man charged in beating death of homeless man on church steps found incompetent to proceed

Dominic Long

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man accused in connection with the beating death of a homeless man near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee was committed to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services after the court ruled him incompetent to proceed in the case against him.

Dominic Long, facing one count of first degree intentional homicide, and one count of attempted first degree intentional homicide, was in court Thursday, Aug. 15 for a competency hearing. The case was suspended after the court found Long incompetent to proceed. He was remanded into the custody of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office for transportation to the facility, and the case was adjourned for the return of a doctor's report.

The crime happened on March 29 on the steps of a church on the edge of the campus of Marquette University.

According to the criminal complaint, Milwaukee police were dispatched to the entrance of a church near 19th and Wisconsin around 9:20 a.m. on March 29. They observed a red sleeping bag at the top of a flight of steps leading to a wooden door. Inside the sleeping bag was 53-year-old Johnny Smith, deceased. Officers also "located a large cinder block at the foot of the church steps." It appeared to have "tufts of material clinging to it, consistent with the lining of a sleeping bag."

An autopsy was conducted on Smith. Officials determined Smith "suffered massive, catastrophic blunt force trauma." They determined the death was caused by a head injury -- and ruled a homicide.

Dominic Long

While investigating this crime, officers spoke with the pastor at the church. That person indicated a man known as "Kevin" stored his personal belongings in a black plastic bag behind the church. The complaint says a search of the bag "resulted in the recovery of men's clothing which appeared to be soaked in blood." Officers found the man later that evening, arrested him and questioned him.

The complaint indicates the man known as "Kevin" is homeless and regularly sleeps in a bus stop shelter near 18th and Wisconsin. He told investigators on March 27, he was "awakened from his sleep when a male subject smashed him in the head with a large rock." It caused him to bleed heavily. The attacker also beat the homeless man with a 2x4. The homeless man told police "he did not get a good look at the attacker because he was sleeping under a blanket. There was no argument or confrontation preceding the attack." Eventually the attacker left on foot.

A review of surveillance video in the area near 18th and Wisconsin confirmed the homeless man's account of what happened on March 27.

When they reviewed surveillance video near 19th and Wisconsin on March 29, it showed a "male subject wearing the same clothes seen worn by the bus shelter attacker in the March 27th video." It showed the subject walk to the church steps where Smith was later found bludgeoned to death. He is out of camera view for a short period -- and then reappears, walking away from the homicide scene. Officials were able to determine the attack on Smith likely happened around 5:27 a.m. on March 29.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

Officers on March 30 spoke with a security officer at the Rescue Mission -- who identified the "attacker" seen in both videos. He was identified as Long "who was then staying at the Rescue Mission." Later on March 30, Long was located at the Milwaukee Public Library and arrested.

When questioned by investigators, Long stated he "did 'fight with' a male subject at the bus shelter a couple of nights prior to the interview." The complaint indicates Long said he hit the male at the bus shelter with a large rock and big stick. He stated "he was trying to beat this person into unconsciousness, but was unable to do so." Long said he walked away.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

As for the murder of Smith, Long said "he had never met this person before." The complaint says Long saw a person sleeping at the top of the church steps, located a large cinder block and "struck the sleeping person" multiple times with the block. Long characterized the attack "as a job (he) had to do" and that he "just felt that (he) had to take him out."