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New Kruger plea hearing Oct. 28
James Kruger
James M. Kruger

A plea hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon for the man who faces 15 Grant County charges in connection with a September 2013 crime spree.

James M. Kruger, 38, pleaded not guilty by mental disease or defect in October 2013 to eight Grant County charges 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.

Since then, Kruger has been in and out of the Grant and Iowa county courthouses while hearings were held to determine whether he was competent to stand trial.

Kruger’s Grant County trial has been scheduled for Nov. 16–25. The plea hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Kruger also faces nine Iowa County 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. Most of the charges include enhanced repeater penalties, as well as enhanced penalties for use of a dangerous weapon.

Kruger’s Iowa County trial was postponed after a request by Kruger’s attorney, Ronald Benavides, for additional evaluations. A status conference is scheduled for Nov. 23.

Kruger also faces a Dane County charge of fleeing or eluding an officer for an incident in August 2013, and charges of felon possession of a firearm, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and felony bail jumping for an incident that occurred one day before the Grant and Iowa county incidents. 

Kruger’s trial on those charges is scheduled for Jan. 7, with jury selection Jan. 4, and a status conference Dec. 14.

Kruger was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Sept. 29 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of firearm possession as a felon July 2. Kruger was also assessed $15,000 in fines and restitution. The federal sentence will be served concurrently with whatever sentence he receives on the 42 state charges he faces.

Kruger led law enforcement officers from four different counties on an extended search and high-speed chase Sept. 10, 2013. After leaving Platteville at high speed in the middle of the night, 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 on U.S. 18/151 near Blue Mounds.