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Man won’t be tried in neighbor’s shooting

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man who killed his neighbor has been sent for treatment at a mental hospital after a judge ruled that injuries from two suicide attempts and his age made the man unfit for trial.

Daniel Bellard, 75, of Plymouth, told investigators that he shot Christine Gestrich on Feb. 6 because he thought she was going to take his land, according to a criminal complaint. Bellard shot himself twice with the shotgun authorities said was used to kill Gestrich, the Janesville Gazette reported.

Bellard had been charged with first-degree murder in Gestrich’s death, but Rock County prosecutors discharged him from the criminal case on Thursday. The case can be reopened if he is ever found competent for trial, District Attorney David O’Leary said.

But O’Leary also said that was unlikely. Two doctors determined Bellard’s injuries from two suicide attempts and his age made him unfit to stand trial and the onset of dementia meant Bellard would likely never regain competency, he said.

Judge James Daley ordered Bellard sent to Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison for treatment, beginning the process for civil commitment.

Bellard appeared in court by video from the Rock County Jail, sitting in a wheelchair, wrapped in a blanket and with clear plastic tubes draped over his chest. His attorney, Robert Junig, has agreed that Bellard could be held because “he is a danger to himself and others.”

Information from: The Janesville Gazette,

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