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CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Suspect killed squirrel hunter thinking he was another animal

Authorities in central Wisconsin now say that a squirrel hunter was killed when a friend in his hunting party mistook him for another animal last weekend. The victim was identified yesterday as 29-year-old Xou Chang of Wausau. He and two other Wausau men were hunting last Sunday morning on private land northeast of Athens in Marathon County. Officials said Chang was shot in the head when a 32-year-old Wausau man saw movement from 50 yards away and fired. Chang had two dead squirrels next to him on a stump at the time. Marathon County sheriff's deputies and the state D-N-R are continuing to investigate the incident.

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A La Crosse couple was charged with manufacturing marijuana, after a fire in their apartment uncovered faulty wiring from their alleged pot-growing operation. Michael Sloan and Melissa Sader, both 33, are free on signature bonds. They're due back in court tomorrow on their felony drug charges. The fire took place September 16th. Investigators later executed a search warrant. Police said they found two dozen marijuana plants and growing equipment set up in two locations of the apartment. The couple's eight-year-old daughter escaped the fire safely.   

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A state appeals judge has ordered the public release of records that could tell us more about the secret John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker's former Milwaukee County aides. Judge Patricia Curley has ordered the records to be filed in 15 days, so she can rule on an appeal from Kelly Rindfleisch. She was one of six former Walker aides convicted of various activities related to Walker's previous post as the Milwaukee County executive. Rindfleisch was convicted of coordinating illegal political activities on Walker's behalf, as he was running for governor in 2010. Her private e-mails are among the items to be released, as the court decides whether search warrants in the case were overly broad as Rindfleisch contends. Also to be released is a search warrant that sought records from Walker's county executive office. The warrant was issued the day before he was elected governor in November of 2010. His aides were convicted of illegal politicking on taxpayers' time, and embezzling thousands of dollars from an annual event to benefit Wisconsin veterans.

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A Madison man has been ordered to stand trial on 13 felony charges in Grant County that reportedly included robbing his uncle and taking a hostage. 36-year-old James Kruger is accused in a three-county crime spree earlier this month that ended with a high-speed chase in a stolen car. At a preliminary hearing yesterday in Lancaster, officers said Kruger beat up his uncle, stole coins and guns from his safe, and took a farmer hostage. Grant County deputy Adam Day quoted the defendant as saying he owed money to somebody -- and he thought his uncle had a million dollars. Day said Kruger was apparently high on cocaine at the time. The hostage was released unharmed in Iowa County, where Kruger is due in court October eighth on 21 charges that include false imprisonment, vehicle theft, and reckless endangerment. His Grant County charges include robbery, strangulation-and-suffocation, shooting a firearm, and taking hostages. Kruger was also suspected of stabbing-and-wounding a man in Madison during the crime spree. His parents have told Madison media outlets that Kruger has bipolar disorder, and was not given his medications in jail when he was arrested in Dane County in late August for eluding an officer. He was freed on a signature bond soon after that arrest. 

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Authorities in Beloit are still trying to figure out why a 55-year-old man went missing eight days ago, and was found dead this week in the Rock River. Police say they do not suspect foul play in the death of Bobby Bevineau. His body was found Tuesday by employees of a Wisconsin Power-and-Light sub-station. 

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A medical expert says a former Wausau area woman might have been smothered to death in Minnesota. Ramsey County Medical Examiner Michael McGee testified yesterday that 30-year-old Kira Steger died from violence -- and her injuries indicate that she may have been smothered, possibly by somebody's hand. Steger's husband, 39-year-old Jeffrey Trevino, is in the second week of his trial in Saint Paul on charges that he attacked and killed his wife -- apparently because she was seeing another man. She went missing in February, and her body was found in May in the Mississippi River. McGee said the body was in the water for awhile. He said Steger was in a state of advanced decomposition, and the skin on her palms and hands was worn off. Under cross-examination by the defense, McGee said the woman's body could have been in the water from a couple weeks to a couple months. He said she was cut with a sharp blade above one of her eyebrows -- and she was apparently alive when that happened. McGee also said her left index finger was broken.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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