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Kruger ruled competent for Grant, Dane county trials
Hearing in Lancaster Friday, in Dodgeville March 10
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The man who led law enforcement on a Grant and Iowa county manhunt earlier this year has been found competent to stand trial in Grant and Dane counties, but not, so far, in Iowa County.

Grant County Circuit Judge Robert VanDeHey ruled Feb. 3 that James M. Kruger, 36, Madison, was now competent to stand trial on the 15 Grant County charges he faces.

A motion hearing and status conference is scheduled in Lancaster Friday at 9 a.m.

Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled Feb. 11 that Kruger was competent for proceedings on the three Dane County felony charges he faces.

An initial appearance in Madison is scheduled for March 5.

Iowa County Circuit Judge William Dyke ruled Dec. 10 that James Kruger, 36, Madison, was not competent to stand trial on the 22 Iowa County charges he faces in connection with the Sept. 10 incident.

A review hearing is scheduled in Dodgeville March 10 at 2 p.m. 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.

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 free on a $500 signature bond Sept. 4 after he was charged on a Dane County felony eluding charge Aug. 28. Kruger also faces Dane County charges of felon possession of a firearm, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and felony bail jumping for an incident in which Kruger allegedly stabbed a man Sept. 9.

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, initially in connection with a stabbing in Madison Sept. 9. No charges have been filed in connection with the stabbing, according to court records.

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 pleaded not guilty to that charge Oct. 21.

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