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Man pleads guilty in triple homicide

DARLINGTON, Wis. (AP) — A Waukesha man pleaded guilty Wednesday in the beating deaths of three retired farmers in southern Wisconsin.

Jaren Kuester, 31, entered his plea after a judge found him competent to stand trial.

Kuester told Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Foust that he understood he was waiving his right to trial with the pleas to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Foust accepted the pleas and ordered a hearing on Jan. 31 to determine whether Kuester was insane at the time of the killings in April, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Gary Thoreson, 70, and his 66-year-old wife, Chloe, and Gary Thoreson’s brother, Dean Thoreson, 76, were beaten to death on a farm near Wiota.

Kuester’s attorney, Guy Taylor, wanted an earlier date for the insanity hearing because he said he was concerned about Kuester maintaining his improved mental state back at the Lafayette County Jail after spending the past three months at the Mendota Mental Health Institute.

After Kuester was found incompetent to stand trial on Oct. 31, doctors at Mendota changed and strengthened his medication and he almost immediately began to improve, Taylor said.

“We’re very hopeful his treatment will continue as it has been in the hospital and that there won’t be an interruption in the services,” Taylor added.

Foust found Kuester competent to stand trial after accepting a psychologist’s report.

Prosecutors say Kuester drove from Waukesha to Green County on April 26, abandoned his SUV, stripped off his clothes and ran through the woods. They say he broke into the farmhouse and killed the three family members.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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