Judge orders competency evaluation for U-Fuel and Peoples State Bank robbery suspect

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has ordered a competency evaluation for a 21-year-old Wheeler man accused of armed robberies at Peoples State Bank in Boyceville and at U-Fuel near Elk Mound.

David J.R. Hoffman appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court October 23 with his attorney, Shelly Tomtschik, for a preliminary hearing before Judge Rod Smeltzer.

Tomtschik reportedly told the court Hoffman was waiving his right to a preliminary hearing and then asked for a competency evaluation.

The court hearing was scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

When the Colfax Messenger/Tribune Press Reporter entered the courtroom several minutes before the scheduled start time, the hearing was already in progress.

B.J. Lande, Dunn County victim-witness coordinator, entered the courtroom moments before the Messenger/TPR and also was not present for the beginning of the hearing.

Lande expressed concern that the hearing had started ahead of the scheduled time.

Judge Smeltzer found probable cause for both cases, ordered a competency evaluation and scheduled an arraignment hearing for January 3.

The competency evaluation must be completed before the next court hearing, Judge Smeltzer said.

Hoffman is charged in two separate case files regarding the armed robbery of Peoples State Bank in Boyceville October 1 and an armed robbery at U-Fuel in the Town of Elk Mound on October 11.

The judge set bail at $10,000 cash at a bail hearing October 14 for the U-Fuel robbery.

Hoffman told the court he would only be able to obtain $1,000 in cash from his family.

Judge Smeltzer also set bail at $10,000 cash for the People’s State Bank robbery at the October 16 initial hearing and with the condition that Hoffman is to have no contact with Peoples State Bank in Boyceville.

The bail amounts in both cases are concurrent, meaning Hoffman would only have to post $10,000 in cash once to get out of custody.

Hoffman is charged with two felony counts of armed robbery with the use of a dangerous weapon.

According to the criminal complaints, Hoffmann admitted to investigators he had robbed both Peoples State Bank and U-Fuel.

Armed robbery is a Class C felony that carries a possible penalty for each count, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $100,000 cash and/or 40 years in prison.

Although the cases started out in separate branches in Dunn County Circuit Court, both cases have been consolidated to Branch 2 to Judge Smeltzer’s courtroom.

Judge James Peterson in Branch 1 has been occupied with a three-week homicide trial that began October 14.

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