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Kenosha County Eye

Melee Breaks Out At Courthouse After Judge Refuses To Release Alleged Killer

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo In Court Friday
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

A short melee erupted minutes after Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo refused to let a man out on a no-cash bail Friday morning. The Sheriff’s Department had extra deputies in the area as about 40 people came to the bail modification hearing at 9:00 am on Friday.

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Accused Killer Ajay Pierangeli
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Dennis Melowski, the lawyer for a Pleasant Prairie man named Ajay Pierangeli, appeared in person Friday, while his client appears via zoom. Melowski has asked a Kenosha Circuit Court Judge to reduce his client’s bail to the tune of one half million dollars – from $500,000 to $0. The Kenosha County DA’s office charged Ajay Pierangeli with two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, class D felonies, Injury by Intoxicated Use of Vehicle and OWI Causing Injury (2nd). If convicted of all counts, Pierangeli faces a maximum sentence of just over 68 years in the Wisconsin State Prison System – Almost 100 years.

The charges stemmed from a July 28, 2023 crash that took two lives and severely injured three others. At approximately 3:05 am, a 2008 Red Dodge Dakota occupied by five people crashed into Play It Again Sports located at 4017 75th St in Kenosha. The driver was identified as Pierangeli (formerly Fierke). According to the report, obtained by KCE from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the criminal complaint, police allege Pierangeli was intoxicated and that speed also caused him to lose control of the truck. Pierangeli’s blood alcohol level was more than three and a half times the legal limit at .282 BAC. Two occupants of a private ambulance witnessed the crash and estimated the speed to be about 70 mph in a 30mph zone. They also saw the vehicle swerving and occupants of the vehicle “blowing kisses” out of the window before the crash. They noted the truck went airborne.

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Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner William Michel II
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner William Michel II signed Pierangeli’s arrest warrant and placed the cash value at $500,000. Defense counsel asked for a lower bail amount, but Michel  declined, citing the seriousness of the allegations.

On September 20, 2023, Melowski asked Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo to give Pierangeli a no-cash bail. The arguments might sound strange to some. Melowski lists the number of family members of Pierangeli that live in the area. He also says that Pierangeli has many friends in the area. He also, strangely, even named one of Pierangeli’s aunts, who has a prominent last name in Kenosha. Melowski also says “Mr. Pierangeli will not try to ‘pull the wool over’ the Court’s eyes to imply that he attends church weekly-as he does not-however, neither does he completely abstain from a spiritual life.” Melowski also says that  the establishment where Pierangeli was employed will “immediately take Pierangeli back to work if he is released.” Melowski classifies this fact as something that “speaks volumes about Mr. Pierangeli’s character.” However,  KCE spoke to the owner of the business who said “I was never contacted by [the] attorney…. I was in law enforcement for over 30 years my heart goes out to families of the victims and of AJ’s. It is a horrible situation.”

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Kenosha Assistant District Attorney Zachary Brost Handing Melowski A Photograph
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Melowski also cites to Pierangeli’s injuries he allegedly caused to himself as a reason why he must immediately be released from jail. This argument, however seemed to be debunked immediately. Prosecutor Zach Brost gave Melowski a photo of Pierangeli doing push ups in the jail while still in the medical wing of the jail. He was also doing planks. Melowski snapped at Brost, saying “Is [releasing photos of inmates] the standard practice of the Sheriff’s Department?” To which Brost responded, “Well, it shows that your client isn’t in as bad a shape as you say he is.” This short dialogue started off the record before court was in session. Melowski also alleges, without citing any evidence that the victims’ families are not seeking severe punishment. This was also debunked Friday morning.

Accused Killer Ajay Pierangeli Doing Pushup In The Kenosha County Jail
(Kenosha Sheriff)
Criminal Defense Attorney Dennis Melowski
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Melowski started the hearing by saying that the cash bond “should be modified” to a no-cash bail, meaning that Pierangeli would be released without having to pay any bail. He said that the $500,000 bail set by Commissioner Michel was the highest he’s seen in his career for “a case like this” for someone with ties to the community and no criminal record. “I believe that a cash bail of this amount is not appropriate,” said Melowski.

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Judge Dougvillo also seemed to take Melowski to task by inquiring if he received permission to share a letter with the court authored by one of the surviving victim’s mother, asking “In your motion, you reference and also attached a letter from ***** *********, who is, I believe one of the parents of one of the victims. Did you follow up to see if you were given permission or blessing to use that in a bond modification argument?” asked Judge Dougvillo. “I did not, your honor, but it’s my understanding that the victims are in support of this bond modification,” responded Melowski. Melowski’s statement would turn out to be untrue.

Quincy Adams, 22 of Pleasant Prairie In Court Today
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Only one victim, a surviving victim named Quincy Adams asked for the bail to be lowered saying “What happened to us that night…. could happen to anyone in this courtroom today….everyone played a part in what happened that night.”

However, a grandfather one of the victim’s who passed away spoke against the bail modification and didn’t mince words. “When this incident first occurred, I had empathy and compassion for everyone involved, not only for the loss of my grandson [Dylan], but for the loss of Jenna.But as time went on, that empathy and compassion, as I learned things and heard things, quickly turned to anger and contempt. This was not an accident. This was something waiting to happen. Ajay has a history of being careless, reckless, arrogant and cocky – and that’s why we’re all here today. My family and I believe that any modification of this bond would be wholly inappropriate. There’s two people dead and I couldn’t care less if he wants to go home. There are two children that are never coming home. This is an attempt by Ajay and his family to minimize the consequences, and that’s what brought us here to begin with. [Ajay] should never have been driving…I wholeheartedly agree that he would be a flight risk, facilitated by his family.”

Next to speak, fighting back tears, was the mother of the other victim who passed away. “Our family does not support a reduction in bond. This was not an accident. This was a choice made by Ajay to drink and drive with alcohol in his system at three times the legal limit. He killed two people. Speaking to so many friends of the victims, and their parents, not one person was surprised that Ajay was driving drunk again and a crashed a vehicle. He regularly exhibited reckless behavior. It was said that they were all friends and they loved each other. Ajay is no one’s friend. When you love someone, you care for them, you protect them, you don’t intentionally hurt them or put them in unsafe situations. His record shows a previous drunk-driving crash, previous underage drinking, fighting in bars, numerous things. He’s such a good friend, that he beat up Dylan a year ago, so severely that he should have been in the hospital. If he gets out on bond, I believe he will harm or kill someone else with his recklessness – or he will flee becuase he is looking at substantial prison time.” The mother then went on to challenge Attorney Melowski’s assertions that Pierangeli was enrolled in college. “From what I was told, he didn’t even attend college last year for his junior year. It’s an excuse to get out of jail. He dropped off after his sophomore year of school. His boss told a reporter that he’s never even spoken to Attorney Melowski before to say that he has a job waiting for him…. Jenna and Dylan would love to be completing their senior year of college – for Jenna to become a nurse, and Dylan’s dream to become a doctor… It is easy for survivors and their families to write letters and speak in his defense, saying they want leniency and they want him out on bond. They are alive and they will go on with their lives. Jenna and Dylan cannot and we need to stand behind and fight for justice for them since they are no longer here to speak for themselves…I believe Court Commissioner Michel was exactly right when stated during the original bond hearing that it is concerning that Ajay not only put the four individuals that were in that vehicle at risk, but he put this whole community at risk by how he was driving. He also stated that the court is very concerned about the safety of this community.”

Assistant District Attorney Zach Brost
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County)

Prosecutor Brost then spoke saying that the State of Wisconsin is opposed any modifications to the bond. He stated that the defendant is facing a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison and is a flight risk. He pointed out that this is the second time Pierangeli was charged with an OWI-related crash. “We have two individuals, Jenna Barrett, who was 21 years of age at the time of the crash and Dylan Zamora, 22, who will never see the world again. They’re not going to be able to go home. They’re not going to be able to go to school. They’re not going to be able to go to work in their future. Their future is over…. One of the things that was in the motion, but was not discussed extensively here today, was the defendant’s health. He has been taken out of the medical ward at the jail and is not in general population. The jail had sent an email to our office showing that Mr. Pierangeli was doing push ups in jail while in the medical ward, so it doesn’t appear the medical issue is a reason to reduce the bond.” He said that there is a danger to the community if Pierangeli is released and this could happen again.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Gerad Dougvillo
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Judge Dougvillo denied the request for a no-cash bail saying in part, “This court is no stranger to the increasing issue that we’re seeing in the state and also in our community in particular when it comes to people making horrendous decisions when behind the wheel of a car. It has come in so many shapes and fashions…Also, this court is aware of bonds previously set in this county or in neighboring counties for offences similar to this…To come in here today and say a $500,000 cash bond [] is in essence greater than what’s required or what’s appropriate, I don’t agree with that. We have two people here who are no longer with us. Children that don’t get to go home to their families, to help heal and collect themselves and move forward. That’s not an option for them. And when I hear the statements here the statements that are multiple people where everyone played a part in what happened, I shutter at hearing that -[be]cause that takes away the responsibility from the one person behind the wheel of a car when something like this happens. The allegations and the information in the criminal complaint, I look at as being very strong in favor of the state…The court is going to deny the request to modify bond.”

Pierangeli didn’t seem to show any emotion from the jail Friday until he heard the Judge deny his release.

Ryan Pierangeli, Father of Accused Killer
(Cell Phone Still From Video, Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)
Amber Fierke (Accused Killer’s Mother – Left)
Anissa Fierke (Accused Killer’s Sister – Right)
(Still Photos from Video)

The packed courtroom with about 40 people then entered the hallway, where a small skirmish ensued. The father of Pierangeli, Ryan Pierangeli appeared to physically attempt to attack the elderly grandparents of one of the deceased victims, yelling and screaming. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Deputies got the situation under control, but Ryan kept re-starting the fight and re-entering the courthouse. KCE caught up with Pierangeli’s attorney to ask about the mistruths in the bond motion documents. He ignored us. Ajay Pierangeli’s sister and mother said disparaging things to me, but I simply thanks them for reading. I caught only audio inside the courthouse, but got a little video outside.

Pierangeli is due in court on January 26, 2024 for a pre-trial conference, where Pierangeli’s attorney is expected to file a slew of motions.

Click here to see the 18 letters written in support of Pierangeli’s release. You will see no one’s name that Attorney Melowski claimed wanted Pierangeli to be released.


  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.


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67 Responses

  1. Absolutely the correct decision (not to allow a sig bond). This killer needs to be in prison for a long, long time and the family could use an attitude adjustment as well.

    1. Probably just the ones whose father tries to beat up the elderly grandparents of one of the victims.

  2. I read the letters. I do not diminish — nor should anyone else — the pain that this young man caused his family and the families of the victims. They do, however, need to understand the bigger picture.

    Many of the letters refer to the defendant as a great guy with a promising future. Another calls this a “tragic accident.”

    Reality check: it was NOT an accident. It was tragic but it was a crime.

    Drinking and driving is a choice. Speeding and reckless driving are choices. And people who commit these horrific crimes are often otherwise “good people.” But they nonetheless are a demonstrated danger to the community.

    My mother was very critically injured and crippled by a drunk driver. Her husband was killed. They were on their way to the mall when they were struck head-on by a wrong-way driver going 30 miles over the speed limit. A businessman who just left a liquid lunch.

    Nothing will ever bring back the victims in this case. The defendant’s supporters fail to grasp the seriousness of this. Let me try. If you add up the number of people killed each year in the U.S. by speeding and drunk drivers it’s TWICE the number killed by murders with a gun.

    There is only one person responsible for this and they need to accept that it is not “an accident.”

  3. The family sure appears to be a big part of the problem. They all seem to feel above others and hence then drunk driving punk does what he does over and over.
    Lock all of them up with the pictures of the dead kids staring them in the face for eternity

  4. Melowski is a really good attorney. I’m somewhat confused on why he wanted to go 0-60 with bail. That’s a REALLY big ask to go from half a mil bail to 0. Confused why he didn’t ask for something more reasonable….like $500k to $100k. Pretty sure that’s something the family could have afforded still….

    1. He is a good attorney for the citizens….if he had asked 500000 to 100000, it might have been approved…but to zero? That’s unreasonable..denied..great!

  5. His father is someone who has a long legal history. He also was taken to court for paternity of Ajay. Loser of a guy

  6. Really nice Ryan to attack the grandparents of a deceased victim. You are a piece of work. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Your son needs to be incarcerated for life.

  7. This is a very sad thing, two young lives lost , But they all made the wrong choice that night, and when you are the driver and you also make that choice, Well this is the
    outcome , I think he is very sorry for what happened, maybe his eyes are finally open to his past and current actions, But unfortunately he has to pay for his bad choices that he made, he also had a choice that night, and that was not to Drive ..,.

    1. Sorry? How is he sorry? Not the first time he was driving drunk. Sorry dose not cut it. Prison for 50 years min.

  8. I think there is a bigger issue here , That I have not heard about , These kids where at a house party , where did they get the alcohol and who served them ?

    1. It is my understanding that it was at a friend’s house. Perhaps, taking a look at the letters will help identify.

    2. They were all 21 and older so legally able to drink so the purchasing of the alcohol isn’t at issue. Also, 100% responsible for their actions.

      1. It amazes me how uneducated people are. The killer literally turned 21 in jail and the others were under 21

  9. It shocks and saddens me at how the Pierangeli/Rizzo family believe that they are above the law. Wow…

    1. It shouldn’t shock anyone that this family thinks they are above the law. This is just one of MANY examples where the Rizzo/Pierangeli family think they run the show in this town and they couldn’t give a rats ass about anyone but themselves.

      1. Yeah, I heard this many times before. They do not like anyone who points out their wrongdoing, as proven by the barrage of letters and behavior in and out of the courtroom. This town is fed up.

  10. Upon reading the letters, I recognized the name Michael Rizzo. Wasn’t he a recent KPD officer? It seems to be the case according to news information available online.

    1. Michael Rizzo’s brother is Matt Rizzo, President of St. Joe’s Catholic Acadamy. The infiltration of the Rizzo/Pierangeli family runs deep in Kenosha. The mafia is alive and well here with these Italian families. Lawless and Godless. You might see some of them in church pews, but they are making backdoor deals in the parking lots.

  11. These letters are just shocking to me. Michael Rizzo, former KPD officer and cousin of Pierangeli, states, in part, that Pierangeli is “a raw talent, gentle soul, clever, charismatic, astute, handsome man…his smile lit up every room he entered.” Rizzo wrote, “Give Ajay the opportunity/possibility to share his smile with others, to be with family while he continues to heal both psychologically and physically from this toll this tragic event has taken on him, to be in an environment that allows him to better clarify his thoughts and feelings regarding the friends he loved and lost.”
    I am appalled by this and many of the letters and the content within those letters. What does any of this has to do with the crime(s) committed by Pierangeli? Nothing. I find this letter very ignorant, as it focuses on the driver, Pierangeli’s persona. He is not a victim, nor does he deserve to be absolved from his crime(s) merely because he is a member of the Rizzo family. This letter is very offensive and Officer Rizzo should know better. I feel sorry for the friends and families of those who have passed away and no longer have the option to share their smiles with anyone anymore.

    1. What exactly is the issue here? For one, it’s simply a letter in support of lowering bond. Most of these people are writing as family members of the accused….no one here mentioned their occupations, etc…..

    2. The point that the letter writers miss is that impaired driving is an equal opportunity crime. It doesn’t matter if the driver who killed or crippled people is rich or poor, an otherwise “good citizen” or the proverbial “dirtbag.” They are equally dangerous.

  12. Not surprised the Rizzo family is struggling to understand consequences. They have lived their lives thinking their connections absolve them of consequence.

    1. Is this the same Rizzo family that runs St. Joe’s? Looks like a family trait to me. Another powder keg waiting to explode over there from what I hear. I wonder what the Archdiocese and the Bishop of Milwaukee has to say about all this.

        1. St. Joe’s should remove Rizzo. From what I hear, he is ruining that school. They just do not want the negative publicity over there.

  13. Thank you, judge. The bill needs to be set exceptionally high for someone who had already run a foul of DUI problems and learned nothing from it. People who don’t take responsibility for their actions will continue to commit them and the community needs to be protected from him fleeing, all communities need to be protected.

  14. It doesn’t matter if all the family members of the victims or his family members or friends want leniency, he is a danger to society. At another time of day, instead of Play It Again Sports, it could have been a minivan with a family inside.

  15. Good ole Ryan… convinced drug dealer and alleged junkie!
    Spent a lot of time with an ankle bracelet. Look him up
    Like father like son I guess.
    Trash! They both belong in jail
    The whole family are a bunch of coke heads that think they are above the law

    1. Ryan was a dirt bag in high school and his rotten apple didn’t fall far from the worm infested tree.

  16. The defendant’s Daddy played Mr. Bully Bad Guy, intimidating and threatening. I am surprised charges were not pressed. To the Deputy that kept this under control (SZ): Great job deescalating the situation, Sir!

    1. As a Kenosha-born Italian, I am disgusted by the behavior of the Pierangeli/Rizzo family. They think they are more influential and powerful than they really are. Sadly, they pretend to be moral Catholics publicly and/or when it benefits them, but are truly evil people behind the scenes. There have been countless times the Pierangeli/Rizzo family has been abhorrent to others (even as reported in this article).

      1. Spot on!! Corrupt, scandalous, and diabolical. Catholic, they are not, more like Judas Iscariot. They would sell their church’s soul for less than $30 pieces of silver to make a quick buck.

  17. John 8:7-11 When they kept on questioning him, he (Jesus) straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

    11 “No one, sir,” she said.

    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    1. Even God demands reparation for sin. May this Judge bring justice for the lives lost to the diabolical decision by Ajay to drive drunk. Clearly he didn’t learn the first time.

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