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Thao found competent to stand trial, pleas entered, hearing waived


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- The man accused of killing and dismembering a man last September in Wausau is now competent to stand trial. 27-year-old Kou Thao was in court Monday afternoon, where his defense attorney Steven Kohn told Judge Michael Moran they would not challenge the findings of the last doctor that examined Thao.

Prosecutor Theresa Whetsteone says the Monday hearing went further than she had anticipated.  “It was originally set as a status conference, or pretrial conference to discuss the competency report, but apparently upon review of the report, the defense was willing to stipulate that the defendant was in fact competent.”

Whetsteone wasn’t sure how much would get accomplished in court Monday, only knowing that Thao’s mental competency would be discussed.  “I actually didn’t know what to expect today coming in. Sometimes, a report will come back that the doctor’s finding is competent to proceed and the defense may challenge that, or bring a second doctor in for another opinion, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.l”

Four doctors have now conducted psychological examination on Kou Thao, and Whetsteone says that is good for everyone involved.  “There have been a couple of doctors that have seen the defendant prior to the latest doctor that has seen him, and that’s great because this is a very serious case and we obviously want a very well-rounded and thorough opinion in a case of this magnitude.”

Now that Thao has been found mentally competent and he has been bound over for trial, Whetsteone says the two sides will exchange case information and prepare for the next hearing.  “Now, the discovery process will take place. The defense will be provided with the police reports and recordings and so forth in our case. The defense will also be under an obligation to provide any discovery that they have, and then we will see where we go from there.”

Thao is charged with homicide, hiding a corpse, and illegally possessing a firearm. Prosecutors say Thao shot 58-year-old Tong Pao Hang of St. Paul Minnesota between the eyes, cut his head off, then drove the body parts to Milwaukee where they were found a week after Hang was reported missing.

Thao remains jailed on a one million dollar cash bond.

(Assistant District Attorney Theresa Whetsteone's comments can be heard on our website, here.)