Jury: Steele not criminally responsible for death of wife, sister-in-law

A jury found Andrew Steele not criminally responsible by reason of mental defect for the deaths of his wife Ashlee Steele, 39, and her sister Kacee Tollefsbol, 38, in August.

Ashlee Steele and Tollefsbol suffered gunshot wounds and other trauma at the Steeles’ home on Yarmouth Greenway Drive in Fitchburg eight months ago. Ashlee Steele was dead at the scene and Tollefsbol was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

Andrew Steele did not deny killing the women but last month pleaded not guilty by mental disease or defect due to his nervous system disease ALS. He was diagnosed with ALS last summer and retired from his position as deputy at the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in June.

Defense attorneys argued that ALS damaged Steele’s brain, making him not criminally responsible for the deaths. Prosecutors believed Steele planned the killings.

After an eight-day trial, the 12-member jury deliberated for about 10 hours until all but two of them reached the verdict early Thursday.

Judge Nicholas McNamara said in court Wednesday that if Steele was found not responsible for the deaths, he could be placed in an institution or released if “not found to be a danger to himself or others.”

Steele will remain in the Rock County Jail until a disposition hearing is held.