Friday, December 30, 2011

After 20 years, Vollbrecht walks out of prison is No. 4 on top 10 stories list - BARABOO NEWS REPUBLIC

By Tim Damos, News Republic

Editor's note: Baraboo News Republic news staff used a voting process to develop the list of 2011's top 10 stories. The No. 1 story will be announced in Saturday's edition.

In December 1989, Terry Vollbrecht was taken from a Sauk County Courtroom to a prison cell, where he was slated to spend the rest of his life for the murder of 18-year-old Angela Hackl.

Vollbrecht had been confined for more than 20 years this January when a Dodge County judge granted him a new trial.

Today, Vollbrecht is free on bail and living in the village of Prairie du Sac awaiting another chance to prove his innocence.

That story kicks off this installment of the Baraboo News Republic's four-day countdown to the top story of 2011.

No. 4: Vollbrecht gets new trial

Attorneys for the Wisconsin Innocence Project represented Vollbrecht in his bid for a new trial.

In a decision filed Jan. 10, Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bauer granted their motion, saying "the real issue has not been fully tried."

Hackl was found hanging from a tree west of Sauk City in June 1987. She had been shot in the back several times.

Vollbrecht's attorneys claimed the evidence used to convict their client at trial was circumstantial and that other suspects deserved more scrutiny.

Bauer wrote in his decision that there was some evidence pointing to Kim Brown, who was convicted of a similar murder in Adams County the same summer. Brown stated in 1987 "he liked to chain women to trees, light them on fire and shoot them."

After the new trial was granted, Vollbrecht's attorneys asked that their client be granted the same pre-trial presumption of innocence as any other defendant, and they requested a chance to make his case for release on bail.

Although an attorney from the state Department of Justice argued that Vollbrecht was a flight risk, Bauer set his bond at $425,000.

A Prairie du Sac businessmen, Curt Mueller of Mueller Sports Medicine, Inc., later posted bail for Vollbrecht. A new trial date has not been set.

You can view the story here.