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Court of Appeals to consider Krauss case

A former Pierce County man has turned to the Court of Appeals in hopes of being released from prison.

Late last month, Paul Krauss, 42, filed an appeal asking that the verdict and sentence he received in 2007 be overturned.

A jury found Krauss guilty in March 2007 of felony second-degree sexual assault, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, false imprisonment, misdemeanor violating an injunction and bail jumping. He was sentenced in July 2007 to 24 years prison.

The charges relate to a June 2006 incident in which Krauss held his estranged wife captive in her Hager City home for nearly four hours. He held her at knifepoint and then tied her up as he attempted to kill himself.

He escaped on foot and wasn't found until five days later.

In sentencing Krauss, Trempealeau County Circuit Court Judge John Damon said, "The possibility for rehabilitation is far outweighed by the need to protect the public and the severity of the offenses."

In August 2008, Krauss' attorney John Birdsall asked for a new trial. His reasons included:

• Krauss' attorney at trial, Lester Liptak, was ineffective. Birdsall said Liptak failed to test physical evidence at the scene or call witnesses who would have aided Krauss' defense.

• Sentencing violated state guidelines. Birdsall said specific facts weren't given as to why the lengthy term for sexual assault was necessary.

•The sentence was excessive and cruel because it was inconsistent with similar cases statewide.

"The sentencing of 24 years was out of line, not only with statewide averages, but with those similarly situated in the west-central area of Wisconsin," Birdsall wrote.

In response, Pierce County District Attorney John O'Boyle wrote the court in December arguing that a new trial was unnecessary.

"Defendants are to be sentenced on case-by-case basis and courts are to exercise their discretion in sentencing based on facts presented before a court, not on statistical theories in other jurisdictions," O'Boyle wrote.

A hearing was held in February in front of Judge Damon.

Multiple witnesses testified on Krauss' behalf, including his two sons, his mother, a close friend and a forensic expert. Birdsall argued that if Liptak had ordered forensic testing "the result in this case would have been different."

O'Boyle said the testimonies weren't going to change the original result.

"Where's the prejudice?" he said. "Where's the prejudice that changes the outcome or causes the lack of confidence in the outcome?"

Damon agreed.

"I don't find anything that's been presented that would have required any attorney to present any of this evidence that would have made any difference at a trial compared to all the other evidence that was presented," he ruled, denying the motion.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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