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Wisconsin court says 1985 killer should be freed

•  Recent Cases     updated  2008/11/13 15:08


A Wisconsin appeals court ruled Thursday that a man who killed a Catholic priest and two others in a church 23 years ago should be released from a mental hospital.

Bryan Stanley had claimed to be a prophet sent to cleanse St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Onalaska when he gunned down parish priest John Rossiter, lay minister Ferdinand Roth Sr. and church custodian William Hammes in 1985. He was angry the priest was allowing girls to give Scripture readings during Mass.

Stanley, who suffered from psychosis, was found not guilty by reason of mental disease and was committed indefinitely to Mendota, a state psychiatric hospital in Madison.

The District 4 Court of Appeals said state lawyers failed to prove that releasing Stanley, 53, would present a danger to himself or the public. The decision overturns a ruling by a La Crosse County judge who had denied Stanley's request for release.

Ferdinand Roth Jr., a retired police supervisor in La Crosse, Wis. and son of one of the victims, blasted the decision. He recalled that Stanley testified at a hearing last year there was not a 100 percent guarantee he would always take his medicine.




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