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Man accused of triple homicide deemed competent to stand trial

Jaren Kuester pleads guilty, faces life behind bars or in institution

DARLINGTON, Wis. - Man accused of triple homicide deemed competent to stand trial

The man accused of breaking into a home and stabbing three people to death was deemed competent to stand trial Wednesday afternoon.

After court-ordered hospitalization and medication at Mendota Mental Health, Jaren Kuester was found competent to stand trial. This after a psychologist's report said he would be able to understand the proceedings.

The 31-year-old reentered his guilty pleas for three counts of intentional homicide, but there is still a chance he could be found not guilty for reason of mental illness.

He faced five felonies, accused of breaking into a town of Wiota farmhouse and stabbing three people to death with a fire poker. Two of those charges will be officially dropped due to the guilty plea.

"I believe that it was inevitable that he would be found competent, but there was nothing that was certain that he would enter pleas," Lafayette County District Attorney Katherine Findley said.

Kuester's attorney Guy Taylor expressed some concern Wednesday afternoon for Kuester's mental health because he got sent back to the Lafayette County Jail.

"We're hopeful that his treatment will continue as it has been in the hospital, and that there won't be an interruption of services," Taylor said.

Taylor has argued before that jailers were not properly administering Kuester's medication, but said Wednesday he is confident the sheriff and his deputies will do what they can to maintain treatment.

Kuester will be back in court Jan. 31. The prosecution scheduled the date eight weeks out so the children of the victims could be at the hearing.

The judge will consider doctors' evaluations of Kuester's mental state at the Jan. 31 hearing to decide if he will be committed to a state institution for the rest of his life or go to prison.

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