Man accused in triple homicide to be arraigned - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Lafayette County triple murder suspect pleads not guilty, new judge assigned


DARLINGTON (WKOW) -- It was a strange turn of events in a Lafayette County courtroom as a suspect in an April triple homicide tells the judge he wants to plead guilty, then changes his mind.

Jaren Kuester, 31, appeared in front of Judge William Johnston Monday morning to enter a plea on the five counts he's charged with, relating to the deaths of Gary, Chloe and Dean Thoreson. The three were found dead inside Gary and Chloe's town of Wiota home in late April. A criminal complaint says Kuester broke into their house while the couple was gone and killed them and Gary's brother Dean with a fireplace poker when they came home.
When Judge Johnston asked defense attorney Guy Taylor for his client's plea at the arraignment hearing, Taylor said the defense intended to stand mute to the charges but Kuester stood up and interrupted him, telling the judge he'd like to plead guilty. Kuester said this twice, but changed his mind after a short discussion with Taylor. Taylor once again told Johnston the defense would stand mute, which means the court enters an automatic not guilty plea on all five counts.
The court appearance left both the defense and prosecution visibly tense, offering few comments after the hearing. Taylor told the media he couldn't comment on why Kuester contradicted him in court nor whether it reflects Kuester's mental state. Previously, Taylor and Kuester's parents both have said Kuester has a history of mental illness that wasn't properly treated. 
Taylor has indicated in the past that he may seek an insanity plea but wouldn't confirm this on Monday. Taylor says he's attempted to do his job well.
"It was pretty obvious that there was some confusion [Monday]," Taylor says. "My client's not ... not comfortable where he is and so he's anxious to move on."
Lafayette County District Attorney Katherine Findley also wouldn't comment on the courtroom outburst on Monday but said an insanity plea can't be ruled out yet.
"That could still happen at any point up until trial," Findley says. "Under the statute they can raise that at any time, so that is up to Mr. Kuester and his attorneys." 
Also in court, Taylor requested a new judge to replace Lafayette County's only judge Johnston. Taylor wouldn't tell the media why, but the request was granted by the court. Dane County Judge William Foust has been assigned to take over. He'll consider Taylor's motion to change the venue of the case to another county. 
For now, the case will stay in Lafayette County until a decision is made. No court appearances have been scheduled yet.


UPDATE (WKOW) --- Lafayette County triple homicide suspect, Jaren Kuester, pleads not guilty to all three homicide charges, along with two other charges.

During the arraignment, Kuester did speak out wanting to plead guilty, but his attorney spoke saying they would stand mute.

After a short discussion in the courtroom, they did decide to stand mute.

Jennifer Kliese was there and will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 & 6.


LAFAYETTE COUNTY (WKOW) – The man accused of killing three members of a family in Lafayette County is expected to be in court on Monday.

Jaren Kuester is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide.  Kuester is accused of killing Gary Thoreson, his wife, Chloe Thoreson and brother, Dean Thoreson in April at the couple's farmhouse in Wiota.

Guy Taylor, Kuester's attorney, said the 31-year-old defendant is competent for trial, but unable to distinguish reality from delusions about what happened the day the Thoresons were killed.

Prosecutors say Kuester drove from Waukesha to Green County on April 26, abandoned his SUV, took off his clothes and ran through the woods.  When he emerged from the woods in Lafayette County, he broke into the Thoresons' home.

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