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Judge enters pleas for man in triple homicide

Jaren Kuester appears in Lafayette County Court with his attorney, Guy Taylor, in Darlington, May 10. Judge William Johnston entered not guilty pleas Monday for Kuester, who faces five felony counts. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King)

DARLINGTON, Wis. (AP) — A judge entered not guilty pleas Monday on behalf of a Milwaukee man accused of killing three family members in Lafayette County after the man’s attorney talked him out of pleading guilty.

Jaren Kuester, 31, faces five felony counts, including three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, in the deaths of Gary and Chloe Thoreson and Gary Thoreson’s brother, Dean Thoreson.

Kuester’s public defender, Guy Taylor, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview he was just starting to tell Judge William Johnston that Kuester stood mute when Kuester stood up and told the judge he wanted to plead guilty.

Taylor said he immediately conferred with Kuester and they agreed he would stand mute. Johnston entered not guilty pleas for him on all five counts. Taylor said he couldn’t comment on why Kuester tried to plead guilty.

Taylor also filed a motion Monday to move the case out of Lafayette County. He said he made the request because publicity about the case and the county’s small population and close-knit communities would make it difficult to find impartial jurors.

Johnston granted another Taylor motion to have a new judge take over the case. Taylor described the request as a “tactical decision” but declined to elaborate.

Prosecutors say Kuester drove from Waukesha to Green County April 26, abandoned his SUV, stripped off his clothes and ran through the woods. They say he broke into Gary and Chloe Thoresons’ farmhouse and killed them as well as Gary Thoreson’s brother, Dean Thoreson.

Taylor told reporters during the early stages of the case that Kuester is confused about the line between reality and delusion.

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