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Mittelstadt fires attorney, asks for speedy trial in June

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A woman who came after the Colfax police chief with a machete when he attempted to execute a warrant for arson has fired her attorney and asked for a speedy trial.

Judge Rod Smeltzer, under the requirements of state law for a speedy trial, scheduled a trial in June for Beth Mittelstadt, 44, during a hearing in Dunn County Circuit Court April 9.

During a court hearing the week before, Mittelstadt had not asked for a speedy trial, and Judge Smeltzer had scheduled the arson trial for November 5 and November 6.

Mittelstadt appeared in court April 9 with the public defender assigned to her case, Dan Chapman, and said that she wanted a new attorney.

Chapman had, in fact, filed a motion with the court to formally withdraw as Mittelstadt’s attorney.

The public defender’s office is in the process of looking for a new attorney to represent Mittelstadt, Chapman told the court.

Chapman is “a very competent attorney,” Judge Smeltzer said.

“I know he is a good attorney,” he said.

Mittelstadt told the court she understood that Chapman was a competent attorney but that he had not been communicating with her enough.

“We need to be able to communicate,” she said.

Chapman has a variety of cases that he handles, Judge Smeltzer noted.

Mittelstadt is in jail on a $10,000 cash bail and “is not going anywhere,” he added.

Just because Chapman does not — or is not able — to return calls when a defendant thinks he should return calls does not mean that he will not provide adequate representation, Judge Smeltzer said.

“If you don’t like the next one, the court may not approve (a change of attorney),” he said.

“He’s had plenty of opportunity to talk to me,” Mittelstadt said, adding that she wanted a new attorney.

Chapman told the court he would turn over all of the evidence he had available as soon as a new public defender had been assigned to Mittelstadt’s case.

In addition to one felony count of arson, Mittelstadt is charged in a separate case with felony counts of first degree attempted homicide, two felony counts of recklessly endangering safety and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer in connection with the machete incident in December.

Colfax Police Chief William Anderson had gone to the apartment on Main Street where Mittelstadt was staying December 18 to execute a warrant related to an arson in Colfax last May.

Mittelstadt threatened the police chief with a machete, and Police Chief Anderson used his duty weapon and shot her once.

Mittelstadt subsequently threatened sheriff’s deputies with the machete as well.

At the April 9 court hearing, Judge Smeltzer asked if Mittelstadt also was requesting a speedy trial for the case of attempted homicide and recklessly endangering safety.

“I need to talk to an attorney on the right thing to do,” Mittelstadt said.

Judge Smeltzer formally granted Chapman’s motion to withdraw as Mittelstadt’s attorney and scheduled a trial June 18 and June 19 for the felony case of arson.

Since Mittelstadt did not know if she would be requesting a speedy trial for the other felony case, Judge Smeltzer kept the trial on the court calendar for November 5 and November 6.

A final pre-trial hearing for Mittelstadt is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court June 5.

Special jury instructions must be filed with the court no later than May 29.