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‘Blackout drunk’ former prison guard convicted for strangling, throwing queer woman into a live fire

Shane Nolan Green Bay Ex Prison Guard Mugshot Judge Striking Gavel
Green Bay Police Department; Shutterstock

Shane Nolan is facing prison for the attack, but escapes hate crime enhancement.

A former prison guard accused of strangling and throwing a queer woman into a flaming fire pit was convicted on two charges by a jury in Wisconsin on Thursday but was acquitted on hate crime enhancers.

Shane Nolan, 32, of Green Bay, was convicted of felony substantial battery and misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the attack on Dessiray Koss at her home on July 3, 2021, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. He faces up to a three and a half years confinement for the felony conviction, and up to 90 days confinement for the misdemeanor conviction. Nolan also faces fines up to $11,000 in fines.

Nolan, a prison guard at the time of the attack but was subsequently fired, met Koss when he and a friend accepted a ride from her sister and her friend after meeting in a bar. The men were too drunk to drive and the group moved to Dessiray’s house.

Once there, Dessiray distributed beers to the group and later moved the gathering outdoors around a firepit. The mood was described as friendly and amicable, and Koss testified that Nolan helped her gather wood for the fire.

Koss testified that Nolan’s demeanor changed in an instant later in the evening, however, becoming cold and menacing. She said Nolan hurled an anti-LGBTQ+ slur, picked her up, and threw her into the fire. When she tried to get up and confront him, she testified he tried to strangle her.

Dessiray’s sister, Danielle Koss, confirmed details of the attack and testified she saw Nolan with his hands around her sister’s throat.

“She was turning really purple at that point and nothing was coming out of her mouth,” Danielle testified.

There was contradictory evidence whether Koss and Nolan were alone at the time of the attack, and if Koss was lifted and thrown or pushed into the fire after she stood to confront him following the slur. In his statement to police and in his testimony at trial, Nolan claimed to be “blackout drunk” at the time of the attack, remembering only being restrained by other people around the fire pit after the incident had taken place. He also testified he initially thought his friend had started a fight for which he had taken a beating. All parties agreed that there was drinking taking place throughout the evening. Two participants in the gathering were asleep on the couch at the time the attack started.

A doctor who treated Koss said she suffered first-, second-, and third-degree burns in the attack which were severe enough to require painful physical therapy and plastic surgery. Koss testified the injuries left her with random shooting pains up her arm.

In her closing argument, Nolan’s attorney, Nila Robinson, suggested Koss and her sister had used the charges to cover their actions in a fight where they “pounded the holy bejesus out of [Nolan].”

The jury disagreed and took little more than an hour to reach its verdicts.

Nolan and his legal team had negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors in July 2022. The deal would have reduced the charges to three misdemeanors with no felony charges or hate crime enhancements.

Brown County District Attorney David Lasee said at the time he did not have the confidence he could win a conviction on the hate crime enhancement charges, and Judge Kendall Kelley dismissed the proposal and sent the case to trial.

Judge Kelley scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 7.

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