Two area men appeared in Rusk County Circuit Court Tuesday to be sentenced for the 2020 murder of a Sheldon couple.
On Tuesday, July 26, Joseph W. Falk, 19, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on two felony counts of first-degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime.
In an April 11 plea hearing, Falk pleaded guilty to these two counts while four other counts were dismissed but read in a plea agreement. As part of the plea agreement, the state would not argue against possibly eligibility for extended supervision during the sentencing hearing.
Adam R. Rosolowski, 23, also appeared in Rusk County Circuit Court on July 26 for a sentencing hearing for two felony counts of first-degree intentional homicide as a part to a crime, as a repeater. Six other charges were dismissed but read in during an April 11 plea hearing.
During the sentencing hearing of Rosolowski, Rusk County Circuit Court Judge Steven Anderson recused himself from the case. Rosolowski family member Bridgette Rosolowski spoke on behalf of the family, calling the request to recuse an unfair and uncalled for.
Another judge will be assigned to Rosolowski’s case quickly, according to Anderson.
Falk and Rosolowski were found guilty in the shooting deaths of Rosolowski’s grandparents, Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski on June 6, 2020. The men, along with Tristan G. Shober, 18, traveled to the Rosolowski’s Sheldon home to pre-meditatively murder them and steal their truck.
In the sentencing hearing for Falk, one person, Bridgette Rosolowski, spoke about how the deaths of Robert and Bonnie Roslowski have impacted the family. She called their actions horrible, ruthless and selfishly unreasonable.
“He will have to face God one day, and on Earth, he will have to take full responsibility,” said Bridgette Rosolowski. She requested the court sentence Falk to two life consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole because she believes she will never feel safe.
“If you killed our parents for so little…what about those you hold you accountable,” questioned Bridgette Rosolowski in her statement.
In her sentencing argument, Rusk County District Attorney Annette Barna told the court that in the four months leading up to the shooting, Falk had been 17 years old and had received 15 referrals at his school. His behavior at school was disruptive, according to Barna. Falk’s referrals were related to disorderly conduct, theft and one incident of lewd and lascivious behaviors.
Since being held in Rusk County Jail, Falk has had more than 20 incidents of misconduct related to being unable to get along with others or jailors and for fighting.
Barna pointed to Falk’s inconsistent accounts of the shooting in different interviews with law enforcement and up to the pre-sentence investigation in May 2022. Falk’s story changed multiple times and each time he minimalized his role in the shooting.
Falk and Rosolowski hid in the Rosolowski home until they snuck up on the couple and shot them, as Barna told the court. Rosolowski told Falk to shoot Robert Rosolowski who was sitting in a chair; Falk shot him in the back of the head with a shotgun. Rosolowski told Falk he wanted to shoot Bonnie Rosolowski because he allegedly hated her the most.
After shooting Robert Rosolowski, Falk ran out of the home but heard two .357 gun shots. Rosolowski shot Bonnie in the jaw. After she was shot, she attempted to push Rosolowski out of the door; while holding the door with Rosolowski on the outside attempting to enter the home, Falk shot his shotgun at the door where Bonnie was standing on the other side.
Barna argued that there is evidence of financial gain and pre-planning by Falk. She showed that Rosolowski had promised Falk a truck if he helped Rosolowski kill his grandparents. Falk, argued Barna, had plenty of time to think about whether he should participate in the murders.
Barna called the loss of the Rosolowski’s enormous, adding they were “two beautiful, unique individuals who touches many lives in the community.
While considering Falk’s sentence, Barna urged the court to consider the lives of both Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski. She requested Falk be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for each count and that the sentences be consequent of each other.
Defense attorney Matthew Krische began his sentencing argument by saying, “it’s important to remember who we’re dealing with.” Krische reminded the court that Falk was 17 at the time of the shooting and that his brain was not fully developed or matured.
The pre-sentenced investigation highlighted Falk’s past of a traumatic brain injury when he was four years old and of, what he called, an inherited mental deficiency.
Krische asked the court to determine if Falk will have the ability to be heard for parole after serving 20-25 years. While in prison, Falk will likely receive programming and cognitive rehabilitation which when he is 40-45 years old and more mature.
Krische told the court that he believes Falk has shown a level of empathy that with continued programming, he could be rehabilitated. Restoring his cognitive abilities may take several years, according to Krische.
“I haven’t seen him not take responsibility…we do know he has shown empathy,” said Krische.
Falk declined to speak on his own behalf.
“Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski were upstanding, contributing, respectable members of their community all their lives,” said Anderson.
On the nature of how they were killed, Anderson said, “the Rosolowskis were not given a chance to defend themselves.” They were shot unknowingly in, what Anderson described, as an ambush attack. They were unable to plead for their lives, defend themselves or attempt to reason with Rosolowski and Falk.
Anderson called the shooting a planned, extremely pre-meditated and methodologically carried out double homicide.
While the court acknowledged the mental and family deficits afflicting Falk, Anderson said he was not unlike others families he often sees in court.
Anderson noted in the pre-sentence investigation Falk said he regretted shooting the Rosolowskis because he would no longer be able to hunt or own a gun.
“I don’t see anything that he’s sorry…he never, ever, ever said ‘I did this, I’m responsible for the deaths of people,’” said Anderson after looking at the evidence.
One concern for Anderson is the impact of the negative influences Falk will encounter while in prison. Anderson believes Falk is very susceptible to negative influences.
Due to Falk’s inability to come to terms with his responsibility and culpability in Robert and Bonnie Rosolowski’s murder, Anderson sentenced him to two terms of life in prison without the chance of parole. Both terms will run concurrent. Falk has 773 days credit for time served.
Falk was ordered to $43,373.42 in restitution.