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Wilson found competent to stand trial in developer murder (UPDATE)

A bailiff escorts Richard Wilson into a courtroom May 31 at the Waukesha County Courthouse. Circuit Court Judge Bill Domina on Wednesday ruled criminal proceedings will continue in the murder case against Wilson, who is charged in the May 8 slaying of his grandfather, Pewaukee real estate developer Ronald Siepmann. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

A Waukesha County judge Wednesday reinstated criminal proceedings against a 17-year-old boy accused of brutally killing his grandfather, Pewaukee developer Ron Siepmann.

Judge Bill Domina ordered the case against Richard Wilson will resume after finding a mental health evaluation provided enough evidence Wilson is capable of understanding the severity of the first-degree murder charges and is able to assist in his own defense. Dr. Erik Knudson of the Mendota Mental Health Institution in Madison performed the evaluation.

Wilson is charged with killing Siepmann with an ax May 8 at Siepmann’s town of Merton home.

On June 2, Domina suspended the murder case against Wilson on the grounds the defendant was unable to understand the charges against him. Since then, Wilson has been confined to the Mendota Mental Health Institution for treatment.

Neither defense attorney Michael Steinle nor district attorney Brad Schimel challenged the evaluation that found Wilson competent.

A status conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 19 to determine whether Wilson will waive his preliminary hearing.

Steinle, of Terschan, Steinle & Ness SC, Elm Grove, said in court Wednesday that a preliminary hearing might not be necessary, but that he wants time to confer with Wilson.

Steinle took over the case Monday from attorney Jennifer Dorow after a substitution request was made by Wilson’s family. Domina formally granted the substitution Wednesday.

Attorneys from both sides of the case agreed with Domina’s order that Wilson continue to take medication, either voluntary or involuntary, to stabilize his schizophrenic condition.

“I believe he does need the medication at this time,” Steinle said in court.

He declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Schimel said in an interview that Wilson’s positive response to medication likely led to his restoration of competency.

“Individuals who have mental illnesses that are in the schizophrenia family often have a hard time understanding proceedings when they are not medicated,” he said. “But upon getting medications they can often do well, so it’s not a surprise to me that they could get him stabilized.”

According to the criminal complaint, Martha Wilson, Richard Wilson’s mother, said her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in November.

Schimel had said Wilson had not been taking his medication near the time of the May 8 murder. It’s difficult to predict whether Wilson will remain competent throughout the trial, Schimel said, but he expects Wilson will enter a not guilty plea by reason of insanity once the case advances beyond the preliminary hearing.

“Then there will be evaluations to determine whether he fits that plea,” Schimel said.

More on the case

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