MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former Dane County sheriff’s deputy found not legally responsible for killing his wife and sister-in-law in 2014 due to a mental disease will be released from a mental institution because his body has degenerated due to ALS and he is no longer a threat to public safety, a judge ruled Friday.
Andrew Steele, 41, can no longer move in a way that would pose a risk to himself or others, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nicholas McNamara wrote. McNamara added that symptoms of a mental disorder haven’t manifested since his trial, showing Steele likely didn’t suffer from a mental disease when Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsboll were killed.
But whether the deaths were intentional or due to mental disease, McNamara wrote “there is no dispute about the fact that Andrew Steele has the mind of a killer,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
McNamara ordered the Health Services department to prepare a conditional release plan for Steele within 60 days.
“Today Mr. Steele is a person who cannot move any part of his body in any manner that would pose a significant risk of bodily harm to himself or others,” the judge wrote. “He is today a man with a dangerous mind trapped in a powerless, paralytic body ravaged by an irreversible and unrelenting disease.”
Steele claimed he didn’t remember shooting his 39-year-old wife and Tollefsbol, 38, of Lake Elmo, Minn. He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, but not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. A jury found him not legally responsible for the deaths, and he was committed.
Steele’s lawyer, Jessa Nicholson, called McNamara’s decision “appropriate.” She said it comes a day after Steele was taken to UW Hospital with complications from ALS. Now, the state will have to place Steele at a private facility.