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Judge mulls mental competency for suspect in triple murder

A court gavel
A court gavel

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A judge could decide today whether Jaren Kuester is mentally competent to stand trial for the killings of three elderly relatives in southwest Wisconsin. 

In July, a plea deal was reached that would have found the 31-year-old Waukesha man not guilty by insanity in the deaths of Gary, Dean, and Chloe Thoreson at their family's farmhouse in Lafayette County in April.  

The plea deal would have sent Kuester to a mental institution for life. It was scrapped after Kuester was unresponsive during the court hearing in which the plea bargain was being considered. 

Now, Dane County Circuit Court judge William Foust will hear testimony in Madison Thursday morning about whether Kuester is currently competent to help with his defense.  

He was ruled competent once before. Kuester's family said he should have been sent to a mental hospital, after he threatened animal shelter employees in Waukesha two days before the murders.

Authorities said he drove across southern Wisconsin after being told he could not see his pet dog, which actually died two weeks earlier.  

Officials said Kuester broke into a farmhouse and killed the Thoresons with a fireplace poker after they arrived there. He then allegedly stole a victim’s pickup truck to see his dad in Waukesha, where he was arrested the next day.