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Judge appoints new attorney for Mittelstadt

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A Dunn County judge has changed his mind about appointing a new attorney for a 44-year-old Colfax woman found guilty of criminal damage to property and recklessly endangering safety.

Judge Rod Smeltzer denied a request for a new attorney for Beth M. Mittelstadt July 2 but at a second hearing later that day agreed to appoint a new attorney.

John M. O’Boyle is the third public defender that has been assigned to Mittelstadt’s case since her arrest last December after threatening the Colfax police chief with a machete at a Main Street apartment while the police chief was executing an arrest warrant for arson.

O’Boyle told the court at a hearing July 27 that he had e-mailed Bachman to get a copy of the file and that he had spoken with Mittelstadt a week ago.

O’Boyle said he planned to seek approval for a psychological evaluation to have available at the sentencing hearing scheduled September 29.

Mittelstadt initially was charged with felony counts of arson and attempted murder and recklessly endangering safety, but a plea deal June 10 ended up in the charges being reduced to felony criminal damage to property and two felony counts of recklessly endangering safety.

Mittelstadt requested a speedy trial, and Judge Smeltzer, under the requirements of state law for a speedy trial, scheduled a trial in June on the felony charge of arson related to a fire at a house on East Third Avenue in Colfax in May of 2014.

John Bachman, the second attorney, was assigned to the case in April, and Mittelstadt said she only saw him two times before the May 29 final pre-trial hearing that had been scheduled prior to the arson trial June 18 and June 19.

Mittelstadt appeared in court April 9 with the first public defender assigned to her case, Dan Chapman, and said that she was requesting a new attorney and at the same time asked for a speedy trial.

Mittelstadt said she wanted to fire Chapman because he had not communicated with her often enough.

According to the state’s rules for public defenders, a defendant can only fire one attorney and can only be assigned one new attorney after that. A judge must issue a court order to assign a third attorney.

The first hearing on July 2 was held in the morning, and Judge Smeltzer denied Mittelstadt’s request for another attorney. He also denied Mittelstadt’s request to represent herself.

Bachman subsequently filed a motion with the court to withdraw as Mittelstadt’s attorney, and Judge Smeltzer held another hearing at 4 p.m. that afternoon and allowed Bachman to withdraw.

Mittelstadt told Judge Smeltzer at the July 2 hearing that she has many questions about sentencing but believed she was not getting enough information.

According to the criminal complaint, Mittelstadt told investigators she had gone to Katie Bundy’s house on Third Avenue in Colfax to buy methamphetamine but denied having anything to do with setting the fire.

Mittelstadt also was charged with felony counts of first-degree attempted murder, recklessly endangering safety (two counts) and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer in connection with the incident at an apartment above the Colfax Arts and Antique Mall in December when she was accused of trying to attack Colfax Police Chief William Anderson with a machete.

Police Chief Anderson shot Mittelstadt in the upper torso with his service weapon.

According to the criminal complaint, when Dunn County deputies arrived on the scene, Mittelstadt was still holding the machete and threw it at one of the deputies.

Mittelstadt remains in custody at the Dunn County jail on a $10,000 cash bond.