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Kuesters competency questioned again
From L-R: attorney Jane Kleven, Jaren Kuester, Guy Taylor and Jason Daane appeared at the defendant's table in Lafayette County Circuit Court Friday, Sept. 27. -Photo by Tallitha Reese

A trial for Jaren Kuester, the man accused of killing three Lafayette County residents in late April of this year, was tentatively scheduled to begin on Oct. 15, 2013.

That, however, will not be taking place, in fact the process is headed in more of the opposite direction after the events of Kuester’s recent court appearance on Friday afternoon, Sept. 27.

Before the court appearance began, the attorneys met privately with Judge Foust. Then when Kuester was brought into the courtroom and proceedings began it was announced that the state and defense had come to a sort of agreement, that according to district attorney Kate Findley, would have included Kuester entering pleas of guilty to the three counts of first degree intentional homicide, and having the counts of burglary and auto theft be dismissed. Findley also explained that they would then request that the courts not enter a conviction at that time.

Guy Taylor, Kuester’s attorney added, “We are withdrawing the previous not guilty pleas and that is with the assurance of the state that we have an agreement for phase 2.”

However, when Judge Foust explained to Kuester that no one could make him come into the courtroom and say anything and then asked Kuester if he realized fully what was going on and that he had a right to a trial, Kuester refused to answer, even when the judge asked him if he wanted a trial or simply asked what he wanted. Kuester still refused to speak.

“If you remain silent Mr. Kuester, then we have to have a trial,” said Judge Foust. “Is that what you want?” He was met with only silence. 

“Can you tell me why you’re not answering the questions?” asked the judge. 

“Would you like some time to talk to your lawyer?”
“Are there any questions that you want to ask me before we proceed?”

When the judge then asked Taylor if his client had clammed up on him lately, Taylor admitted that he had.

“Mr. Kuester, if you can’t answer fairly simple questions I think I have to question your competency to go forward with this case,” said Foust to the defendant, who at that point finally spoke up.

“Well if you told me I can remain silent I think I’d like to remain silent. Thank you,” said Kuester.
From there the court ordered that Kuester be examined by the department of health services, again, and scheduled a tentative hearing date for Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Kuester appeared in court wearing what his attorney described as a suicide smock, reserved for high risk prisoners to prevent them from harming themselves and no shoes.

For the full story see next week’s edition of the Republican Journal.