Andrew Brunette

Andrew Brunette

A Rice Lake man jailed since he shot and killed a Chetek man in September 2020 will learn his fate seven weeks from now when sentence will be pronounced Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, according to Barron County Circuit Court records.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, a 12-member jury delivered a dual verdict that defendant Andrew Brunette had a mental disease or defect when he shot and killed Garrett Macone in September 2020, but that the mental disease/defect did not impair his “capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.”

The verdict followed three and one-half days of testimony, the presentation of dozens of exhibits, photos and recordings, and several hours of deliberation.

Brunette, 26, was returned to the Barron County Jail immediately after the verdict.

A criminal complaint filed in September 2020 alleged Brunette shot Macone twice with a 9 mm handgun while Macone slept in his rural Chetek home.

Court documents said Brunette was separated from his wife and that the woman and Macone were in a relationship. Following the shooting, the woman filed for divorce from Brunette.

Court records said that when the verdict was rendered, the jury answered two questions as instructed by the court:

First, the jury answered Question #1 that, “yes,” Andrew Brunette had a mental disease or defect at the time he shot and killed Garrett.

However, the jury was also asked to give a yes or no answer to Question #2: “As a result of the mental disease or defect did Mr. Brunette lack substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law?” The answer was No.

The verdict is that Brunette had a mental disease or defect when he shot and killed Garrett, but he was not “not guilty by reason of insanity” when he committed the offense.

Lengthy history in Wisconsin

The nearly eight-week pre-sentence investigation will determine what kind of future Brunette will face as he moves into the state’s correctional system.

Wisconsin law says a person is not responsible for criminal conduct if (at the time of the crime) it is the result of mental disease or defect (and) the person lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of (the) conduct or conform (the) conduct to the requirements of law.

The law also says that if a defendant wants to be examined by a physician, psychologist or other expert of the defendant’s choice, the examiner must have access to the defendant to question them. However, no testimony will be received less than 15 days before a trial, and a report of the exam must be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.

In Brunette’s case, there were three lengthy court hearings during October, many of the proceedings taking place well over 15 days before the trial began, as defense attorneys and prosecutors presented their materials to the court.

According to the Milwaukee law firm of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin and Brown, a successful insanity defense “will, typically, (result in the defendant being) committed to a psychiatric facility instead of (prison) depending on the circumstances of the case.

“This is because the (insanity defense strategy) is based on the idea that incarceration is justified only when the defendant is capable of controlling their behavior and understanding the consequences of that behavior,” the law firm added.

According to the Marquette University Law Review, the insanity defense in Wisconsin already had a lengthy history by the time Milwaukee attorney Gregory Gramling wrote a paper in April 1933 entitled “Insanity in Criminal Cases in Wisconsin.”

The paper, which is available online, cites a case in Great Britain which was used as the basis for numerous cases in the United States.

The insanity defense sometimes results in exoneration. According to a story by Ed Treleven in the Oct. 29, 2021, Wisconsin State Journal, a jury that found a man guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbing death of a longtime friend in Stoughton in 2017 later ruled that the man wasn’t legally responsible for the killing because of a mental illness.

The jury relied on the testimony of two psychiatrists who said the defendant “is afflicted with an unspecified schizophrenic spectrum disorder causing psychotic symptoms.”

The defendant was ordered committed to a state mental hospital for an unspecified period of time. Unlike the guilt phase of the trial, the verdict did not have to be unanimous, but there were no dissents, Treleven reported.

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