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Jaren Kuester declared incompetent to stand trial
kuester close up
Jaren Kuester was declared incompetent to stand trial at a hearing on Oct. 31 after a competency analysis report was presented to the court by Dr. Erik Knudson, of the Mendota Mental Health Facility in Madison. Above photo from a previous hearing during September. -Photo by Tallitha Reese

The man accused of killing the Thoresons, three rural South Wayne residents, in late April was declared incompetent to stand trial by Judge William Foust and an order of commitment for treatment was filed for Jaren Kuester on Thursday, Oct. 31.

The order of commitment calls for Kuester to be committed to the Department of Health Services (DHS) for an indeterminate term that will not exceed 12 months, with the institute periodically re-examining him at three, six and nine month intervals and providing the court with written reports of the findings.

This means that for now, court proceedings regarding Kuester’s case have been suspended and will not be taken up again until such a time that Kuester has been determined to be competent and able to stand trial.

During Kuester’s competency hearing, it was announced that the court had received a psychiatric evaluation report from Dr. Erik Knudson, associate medical director of Mendota Mental Health Facility in Madison, that morning. Knudson appeared in the courtroom during the hearing via videoconference.

Kuester and his attorney Guy Taylor also appeared by videoconference while Lafayette County District Attorney Kate Findley and Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte were present in the Dane County courtroom with Judge Foust.

The competency hearing was scheduled to take place on Oct. 15, but was pushed back to Nov. 12 after Knudson wrote a letter to the court requesting an extension of the evaluation due to the fact that Kuester was not participating.

The hearing was then moved up to the morning of Oct. 31, when the competency report was completed and all parties involved were available and wanted to move the process along.

A court date of Nov. 25 has been scheduled for “further proceedings” regarding Kuester’s case, according to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website. This court proceeding has been set to take place by phone.

Kuester had already been declared competent to stand trial at a hearing on July 1, but at a later court date on Sept. 27 when Kuester refused to consult with his attorney or reply when the judge asked him questions about understanding the proceedings, Kuester’s competency was called into question once again.

Kuester has been charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Gary Thoreson, 70, his wife, Chloe Thoreson, 66, and his brother Dean Thoreson, 76, all of rural South Wayne. Kuester also faces charges of burglary and automobile theft in connection with the case.