DARLINGTON — On Friday, his 19th birthday, Jeremy Wand was scheduled to be sentenced on three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count each of felony murder, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and arson.
Instead, one day before Wand’s scheduled sentencing, Wand’s attorney, Frank Medina, filed a motion to allow Wand to withdraw his guilty pleas.
As a result, Wand’s scheduled sentencing hearing in Lafayette County Circuit Court this morning has been delayed until Aug. 22 at the earliest.
The charges are in connection with the Sept. 7 Argyle house fire that killed his three nephews — Allen, 7, Jeffery, 5, and Joseph, 3 — and injured his niece, Jessica, 2, and sister-in-law, Sharon.
Medina told Green County Circuit Judge Thomas Vale there were “issues that should be addressed that justify withdrawal of the plea,” including “inconsistent statements by Sharon Wand” and misdemeanor charges that “brings questions of credibility as a witness.”
Sharon Wand is facing two counts of criminal trespass and three counts of theft of up to $2,500 in connection with alleged thefts at Bloomfield Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Facility near Dodgeville, where she had been rehabilitating after she was released from UW Hospital in Madison.
In addition, Jeremy Wand said he was not “all on board” with pleading guilty to the charges when he pleaded guilty June 12.
Wand claimed he had been coerced by his co-counsel, Miguel Michel, into pleading guilty to the charges.
A hearing on Wand’s motion is scheduled for Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. If Vale rules against Wand’s motion, the sentencing would be rescheduled for Aug. 22 at 1 p.m.
Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte said the right to change a plea requires a “fair and just reason” and is “not an automatic right.”
Korte said the charges against Sharon Wand “have not resulted in any convictions” and are “at the present time irrelevant to any trial.”
Vale said Wand’s presentence investigation report “indicated that he perhaps was not thinking clearly at the time” and “pleaded guilty only at the insistence of his attorney.”
However, Wand said Medina did not insist he plead guilty.
“It wasn’t Medina I felt pressured by, it was the other one,” Michel, he said. “We talked about it, but I really wasn’t on board with it because of the pressure from the other attorney.” Michel “kept on repeating it over and over and over again,” he said.
When Vale asked when Wand agreed to plead guilty, Wand answered, “I just did what I felt was best for the situation … I just wanted to do what people would want — make people happy instead of doing what I want.”
“I explained his options, I explained his constitutional rights, and he signed it,” the plea form, said Medina, adding he felt there was “a better opportunity at sentencing to fight for better sentencing than what the state was offering. … That was the problem — that it didn’t seem like much of an offer.”
After the hearing, Korte said the state was “offering the same terms and conditions that it offered to Mr. Armin Wand. … We had discussions regarding concurrent vs. consecutive. Those were completed the day of the hearing.”
Wand’s brother, Armin III, Sharon’s husband at the time of the fire and the father of the children, is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.