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Kruger denied change of venue, dismissal of charge
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If the case against a man who led law enforcement on a two-county manhunt earlier this year goes to trial, the trial on Grant County charges will be held in Grant County.

Grant County Circuit Judge Robert VanDeHey Friday denied a motion for a change of venue for James M. Kruger, 36, Madison, who faces 16 Grant County charges in connection with the Sept. 10 incident.

VanDeHey also denied a motion to dismiss the charge of discharging a firearm at a person.

A status conference in the case is scheduled for March 24 at 11:30 a.m. The status conference will review Kruger’s plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the Grant County charges, according to Clerk of Courts Tina McDonald.

Friday’s hearing also included a discussion by Kruger’s Grant County attorney, Roseann Oliveto, about consolidating the three sets of charges, McDonald said.

Kruger will make an initial appearance in Dane County Circuit Court Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. on charges of felon possession of a firearm, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and felony bail jumping.

Kruger is accused of allegedly stabbing a man Sept. 9. Kruger was out on a $500 signature bond at the time of the Sept. 10 chase.

A competency review hearing in Iowa County Circuit Court is scheduled for March 10 at 2 p.m. Circuit Judge William Dyke ruled Dec. 10 that Kruger was not competent to stand trial on the 22 Iowa County charges.

The three-month review hearing was scheduled after Brad E.R. Smith, M.D., a Madison psychologist asked to evaluate Kruger’s state of mind during the manhunt and whether or not he was able to assist in his defense, testified Dec. 10 that Kruger was not able to assist in his own defense.

Van De Hey ruled that Kruger was competent to stand trial on the Grant County charges Feb. 3. Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled Feb. 11 that Kruger was competent to stand trial on the Dane County charges.

In Grant County, Kruger faces eight counts of felony bail jumping, and one count each of fleeing or eluding an officer, armed robbery, strangulation and suffocation, discharging a firearm at or toward a person, taking hostages and releasing without bodily harm, intentionally pointing a firearm at a person, and misdemeanor battery.

In Iowa County, Kruger faces nine counts of felony bail jumping, three counts of fleeing or eluding an officer, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and one count each of taking and driving a vehicle without consent, driving or operating a vehicle without consent, carrying a concealed weapon, and theft of movable property of up to $2,500.

Kruger was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 18 on a charge of felon possession of a handgun, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Kruger’s next federal court date has not been scheduled yet.

Kruger pleaded no contest Nov. 11 to an Iowa County traffic charge of operating with a restricted controlled substance. Kruger pleaded no contest Oct. 7 to three other Iowa County charges of reckless driving endangering safety, failure to stop at a stop sign, and driving the wrong way on a divided highway.

Kruger led law enforcement officers from four different counties on an extended search and high speed chase Sept. 10. Kruger is accused of beating and robbing his uncle in Cassville, taking a man hostage and stealing his truck, stealing another vehicle after his hostage escaped in Dodgeville, and leading authorities on a chase, often at high speeds, on U.S. 18 in Grant and Iowa counties before he was stopped near Blue Mounds.

Kruger is in the Grant County jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bond.