Wanted 'menace' Kenneth Twyman keeps posting bail, getting out

There's a killer on the loose in Milwaukee and one man is wanted for the crime. The victim's family says the man police accuse of pulling the trigger should have been locked up at the time. Only this time, the family is not complaining about "low" bail. They want to know why he was allowed to buy his way out of jail at all.

It doesn't take a sophisticated risk assessment tool to see Kenneth Twyman is dangerous. A video police found on his own mobile phone shows him driving the streets of Milwaukee, steering with his left hand, while rapidly firing a handgun out of an open window with his right.

A deputy US Marshal tasked with finding Twyman in 2018 called him "a complete menace to this city."

The U.S. Marshals Service found Twyman hiding in another state in 2019 and brought him back to Wisconsin. Since then, he's been in and out of jail. Now, he's wanted again.

Video on a phone police recovered from Twyman's car in 2018 shows him driving through neighborhoods rapidly firing a handgun out the window.

"It makes no sense whatsoever to me," said a woman we'll call Mary. That's not her real name. She's afraid to share it for reasons that will soon become clear.

"We don’t know Kenny’s next move," she told FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn. "That’s a fear for us. That’s a great fear."

In April, outside a Quik Mart convenience store near Fond du Lac Avenue and Locust Street in Milwaukee, someone shot and killed Mary's nephew, 24-year-old Tayvon Luckett.

"Why?" she wonders. "What happened?"

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Her confusion turned to anger when she learned prosecutors had issued a homicide charge against Twyman, a man who already had three open felony cases in Wisconsin. The homicide case would be his fourth.

"Four outstanding warrants! Four open cases!" she said, exasperated.

It started in September 2018, when Milwaukee police said Twyman led officers on a high speed chase that ended when Twyman crashed into an SUV with a mother and three young children inside. As officers approached the crash scene, Twyman ran off into the darkness and disappeared.

In his car, they found a half pound (249 grams) of marijuana, four grams of cocaine, a gram of heroin, three digital scales, a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun, a box of ammunition, and seven flip-style cellphones. Police say one of those phones contained disturbing videos of Twyman showing off an arsenal of weapons, including one in which he's seen driving through a residential neighborhood firing an automatic weapon out of an open window.

Police say Twyman shot 24-year-old Tayvon Luckett in the neck and chest and left him to die.

"Never seen such reckless behavior in my days," said a deputy marshal in an interview with FOX6's Angelica Sanchez in 2018, when Twyman became one of Wisconsin's Most Wanted.

After FOX6 News featured Twyman's story in December 2018, the U.S. Marshal Service picked him up in Arkansas. A Milwaukee County judge set bail at $3,000 cash. A few months later (June 2019), Twyman posted bail and got out. 

"He was free to wander the streets and roam and do whatever he wanted to do," Mary said.

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Since then, he's been in and out of jail at least three times, skipping court hearings at least six times along the way. In January 2022, U.S. Marshals went to get him again. This time, they found him in a bedroom at his mother's Milwaukee apartment. They also found a 9 millimeter handgun, 17-round magazine, two pounds of marijuana, and $4,700 in cash.

In a digital recording of Twyman's initial appearance, his lawyer told the court $1,000 bail would be more than enough.

"The only other job he has is working for his father at his father’s store," the defense attorney said.

Still, prosecutors wanted a much higher bail. And they got it.

A woman we are identifying only as "Mary" is a relative of Luckett. She says the criminal justice system let her family down.

"I am going to follow the state’s recommendation," said Court Commissioner J.C. Moore, "and set the $7,500 cash."

Four days later, a man named Bennie Williams - who identified himself as a family member of Twyman's – paid $7,500 to spring him from jail.

"And he’s out again," said FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn.

"To commit murder," Mary quickly replied.

Three months after Twyman was once again freed from jail, police said Tayvon Luckett was visiting the Quik Mart to get pizza rolls. When Luckett came out, a witness said he seemed to recognize "Kenny" Twyman and called his name. The witness told police the two men appeared to shake hands, but then she heard two "pops." Luckett fell the ground. Twyman got into the passenger seat of a car and rode away. 

Luckett died from gunshot wounds to the neck and chest.

Nick Sayner, co-founder of Justice Point, wants to replace cash bail with a pretrial detention system that requires a due process hearing.

"Did that cash bond keep your family safe?" Polcyn asked.

"No," Mary said. "No it did not. We are still not safe."

"We’re equating a higher cash bail with public safety. And that’s just not the case," said Nick Sayner, co-founder of Justice Point, Milwaukee County's pre-trial services agency.

Sayner is an outspoken advocate of bail reform. 

"If money isn’t going to work - and money doesn't work - then we have to look at some other options," Sayner said.

Bail reform means different things to different people. The Waukesha Christmas parade attack last fall focused attention on "low bail" for violent offenders, which prompted State Senator Julian Bradley to call for "minimum" bail amounts for certain crimes.

"How do you pick a fixed dollar amount like $5,000 or $10,000 and say, ‘That’s the magic number," asked FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn.

"That’s not the magic number," Bradley said. "It’s the minimum. It’s the starting point."

Twyman posted a total of $12,500 cash – his 2018 bail was increased to $5,000 – but still wound up charged with homicide.

"When someone needs to be detained, they need to be detained, period," Sayner said.

Sayner wants to eliminate cash bail altogether. He wants Wisconsin to follow the so-called "New Jersey model," in which most defendants are released before trial, but the most dangerous defendants are held without bail.

"You're held until your hearing date. How do you feel about that?" Polcyn asked.

"I think that’s a very good idea," Mary said.

As it is, Mary believes the criminal justice system let her family down. Still, it's what happened after her nephew's death that rubbed salt in the wound.

"You know that he was going to be there via zoom," she said. "Why didn’t you go and get this guy?"

On April 21, a Milwaukee court commissioner issued a homicide warrant for Twyman. The next day, he was in court on a different case, appearing by zoom from his lawyer's office in Racine. The prosecutor knew there was a warrant. But according to Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern, she said nothing.

"It would be in the interest of law enforcement and our interest not to have that information divulged to a subject who is wanted," Lovern said.

"All they had to do was just pick up the phone and make a phone call," said Mary, whose family is still grieving, but also scared. "Who knows what he’s going to do next?!"

If the system won't hold Kenneth Twyman accountable, she said, the streets will.

"This could turn into a real gun battle within the city of Milwaukee," she said.

Twyman was due in court in Waukesha County on Monday, May 22, for a plea and sentencing in a 2021 felony bail jumping and drug possession case. With the homicide warrant out in Milwaukee, Twyman was a no-show in Waukesha. Sources tell FOX6 Investigators Milwaukee police have now asked U.S. Marshals to find Twyman and bring him in for a third time.

Meanwhile, Twyman has retained attorney Mark Richards to defend him in the 2018 police chase and at least one other case. Richards is best known for defending Kyle Rittenhouse on his way to an acquittal over the Kenosha protest shootings. Richards did not return a phone call seeking comment.