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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

[WI] Update on attempted (wife) murder trial of Officer Lee

Wausau ex-officer close to trial for attempted murder
Associated Press
May 6, 2008
State prosecutors failed Tuesday to get evidence previously banned back into their case against a former Wausau police officer accused of trying to kill his wife. Chueng Lee, 46, of Weston, is accused of forcing his wife, Chao Lee, into a vehicle and deliberately crashing it into a Shawano County bridge in September. Chueng Lee, a 15-year police veteran, is charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide, false imprisonment and aggravated battery. He faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on the charges... [Full article here]

1 comment:

  1. Judge limits evidence against officer accused of attempted murder
    By Tim Ryan, Leader Reporter
    The Shawano Leader
    January 25, 2008

    A Shawano County judge Thursday drastically limited evidence the state had hoped to present against a former Wausau police officer accused of the attempted murder of his estranged wife.

    Chueng Lee, 46, of Weston, is charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide, false imprisonment and aggravated battery. He is accused of forcing his wife, Chao Lee, 40, of Weston, into a vehicle and deliberately crashing it into a Shawano County bridge on Sept. 18.

    Circuit Court Judge Thomas Grover agreed with defense arguments suggesting much of what the state wanted to present was not directly related to the alleged crime.

    Defense attorney James Connell accused the prosecution of trying to use Lee’s Hmong ancestry to influence jurors.

    “The only reason for this evidence is to prejudice the jury with an offensive appeal to stereotype,” Connell said.

    The evidence proposed by the state — and stricken by Grover — included references to two murder-suicide cases in the Hmong community Lee worked on when he was an officer.

    In a motion filed by the prosecution, the state maintained Lee threatened his wife by making references to those cases.

    Connell claimed the state wanted to create the impression violence toward women was part of the Hmong culture.

    “Violence toward women, degradation toward women is not part of those customs,” Connell said.

    Dennis Krueger — a prosecutor with the state attorney general’s office, which is assisting in the case — denied the prosecution’s intent was to make race an issue.

    “We don’t believe this has anything to do with the Hmong culture,” Krueger said. “This is a case of someone who tried to kill his wife.”

    Krueger argued the two murder-suicide cases were relevant — regardless of the Hmong connection — because Lee worked on them and allegedly used them to frighten his wife.

    Grover said Lee’s alleged remarks about those cases offered no proof of the charges against Lee.

    Grover also ruled out any detailed testimony of apparently contentious divorce proceedings between Lee and his wife.

    Grover said there could be testimony about the divorce — adding it did seem to provide a possible motive — but he prohibited prosecutors from delving into details, saying it could end up becoming a divorce case tried within an attempted homicide trial.

    “An awful lot of time would be wasted,” Grover said. “I don’t think we should go there.”

    Grover also barred introduction of a 1993 incident involving Lee characterized by the prosecution as a kidnapping and which the defense referred to as “ritual courtship.”

    Grover did allow evidence related to a stalking incident and restraining order violation he said were relevant to the case, and also permitted testimony about Lee’s trips to Thailand and allegations he has a second wife there.

    Also at Wednesday’s hearing, Grover granted a defense motion allowing more time to prepare for trial.

    Connell said the state had presented a list of more than 30 witnesses, some of which came as a surprise, along with more than 435 pages of discovery.

    Also, Connell said, the defense had not yet received investigator reports and was still awaiting its own reconstruction of the Sept. 18 crash scene.

    Grover set May 19 as the new start date for the trial, which is expected to run about two weeks.

    District attorney Greg Parker said there was no objection to delaying the trial, but did not want to put it too far off into the future out of concern for Lee’s wife.

    “The victim is getting pressure from family members, which we believe is undue pressure,” he said.

    Parker did not elaborate and prosecutors did not discuss the case after the hearing.

    Krueger was asked about a comment during the hearing that DNA swabs at the scene of the alleged crime failed to provide a DNA profile. He would not comment on whether that meant no DNA evidence would be offered.



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