DARLINGTON — The man accused of killing three people in the Town of Wayne April 27 stood mute during his arraignment in Lafayette County Circuit Court Monday.
That was the plea entered by the attorneys of Jaren M. Kuester, 31, Milwaukee, on three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, burglary and auto theft.
What actually happened in the courtroom was more dramatic, at least briefly.
When Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge William Johnston asked for a plea from Kuester during the arraignment, Kuester stood up, interrupted his attorney, Guy Taylor, and announced that he wanted to plead guilty.
“Your honor the defense stands mute at this time,” said Taylor immediately following Kuster’s unexpected announcement, after which Kuester insisted, “I’d like to plead guilty, sir.”
After the contrasting statements from defendant and attorney, Johnston recommended that Taylor might want to confer with his client, to which Kuester said, “That’s not necessary.”
After a short conference between Kuester and his attorney, however, Taylor announced that the defense would indeed be standing mute to all charges. Johnston then submitted pleas of not guilty to the five charges.
Kuester is charged in connection with the deaths of Gary Thoreson, 70, Chloe Thoreson, 66, and Dean Thoreson, 76, in Gary and Chloe Thoreson’s Town of Wayne home April 27.
Kuester is in the Lafayette County Jail in lieu of $3 million bail. He faces mandatory life sentences if convicted of intentional homicide, 12½ years in prison and a $25,000 fine on the burglary charge, and six years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the auto theft charge.
Taylor also submitted a request for substitution of judge as well as a change of venue motion for the trial. Afterward, Taylor said he didn’t wish to comment on those actions saying, “I don’t want to say anything that could be misconstrued as disrespect to the fine judge.”
Outside of the courtroom, Taylor’s reaction to the initially contrasting events of the arraignment was to say, “Nothing’s changed.”
“My client’s not comfortable where he is,” Taylor also said. When asked to specify if that meant Kuester was not comfortable where he is mentally, physically or in some other way, Taylor said that with everything, Kuester was not comfortable.
There was no mention of an insanity plea during this court appearance, although when asked about her thoughts on that matter, Lafayette County District Attorney Kate Findley said “that could still happen at any point up until trial or at the trial.”
The date of Kuester’s next court appearance is dependent on the new judge for the case, Dane County Circuit Judge C. William Foust.
Kuester has been charged in the deaths of Gary Thoreson, 70, and Chloe Thoreson, 66, who were married, and Dean Thoreson, 76, Gary’s brother. All of the victims, of rural South Wayne, were found dead in Gary and Chloe’s home on April 28.
Prosecutors say that Kuester drove from the Waukesha area to Green County, where he abandoned his vehicle, removed his clothing and began running cross country until he came upon the Thoreson home, which he broke into.
Kuester is accused of killing Dean Thoreson, who was checking on the home for his brother and sister-in-law while they were out of town, and then later also killing Gary and Chloe Thoreson as they returned from their trip.
Kuester then took a truck from the location and drove back to the Waukesha area where he was later apprehended at an apartment building, according to the criminal complaint.