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Kuester competent but confused, lawyer says

By Theo Keith, tkeith@wisctv.com
Published On: May 10 2013 01:45:12 PM CDT
Updated On: May 11 2013 01:30:24 PM CDT
DARLINGTON, Wis. -

The public defender for the man suspected of killing three people in Wiota, Wis., said Friday he was investigating the possibility of an insanity defense.

Jaren Kuester, 31, is accused of breaking into a rural home in Lafayette County on April 27 and killing three people.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Kuester sat with his head down as the judge read the counts against him: three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of burglary and one count of stealing a vehicle, all felonies.

After the initial appearance, which lasted less than 10 minutes, Kuester's public defender Guy Taylor told reporters that Kuester is competent and cooperative but also said he found Kuester to be confused.

Taylor also said the defense is considering an insanity plea, but long-term mental treatment wouldn't be "a walk in the park" for Kuester.

"I don't think I'm giving away any secrets in saying (an insanity defense) is obviously foremost in our mind," Taylor said. "It's first thing we'll be investigating, that's for sure."

Taylor said Kuester is held in isolation at the jail and is not receiving therapy, but that he was being treated well.

The criminal complaint said Gary and Chloe Thoreson and Dean Thoreson, Gary's brother, were killed with a fireplace poker because Kuester didn't want them to leave and get help.

Taylor said the Kuester family members were in court Friday and they are horrified over the incident.

Family members of the three victims were also in court, and a family spokesman offered few words after the proceedings.

"The family simply wants to thank the entire Wiota community for their outreach and support, the family also thanks members of law enforcement and investigators," said Luke Smetters, the pastor at Wiota Lutheran Church.

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