Kaempf does not qualify for legal aid
Monday, May 06, 2013 7:00 PM
MARINETTE - The man charged in the April 27 murder of domestic abuse advocate Patricia "Trish" Waschbisch does not qualify for a court-appointed public defender.
Brent L. Kaempf, 48, Peshtigo, made a brief appearance via videoconference from the Marinette County Jail Monday in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2. Attorney Bradley Schraven, a public defender who has been acting as Kaempf's attorney in the early stages, told the court that Kaempf has too many assets - including a house - to qualify for assistance.
Circuit Judge Jim Morrison said he received a letter from Schraven indicating that after an evaluation of the defendant's assets, it was clear Kaempf would not qualify for public defender status. It was determined that Kaempf has about $60,000 in assets available to hire an attorney.
Morrison told Kaempf he has three choices: To go without an attorney and represent himself; hire a private attorney; or have the court appoint an attorney under the so-called "Dean appointment" (State vs. Dean) with Kaempf responsible for payment.
Going without an attorney was not a good option, according to Morrison.
"That is not realistic choice, I'm sure," he said. "I cannot conceive a circumstance under which I would permit you to represent yourself in this case, but that's at least an option."
When asked by the judge if Kaempf wished to have the court appoint a Dean attorney or hire his own attorney," Kaempf replied, "I guess I will try to find my own attorney."
The defendant said he will have his parents look for an attorney.
Kaempf questioned the value listed for his house, stating that it needs a lot of work.
Morrison said he's not asking Kaempf to sell his house. "What I'm suggesting is, if you want to have an attorney appointed under the Dean case, and we do that, we will take security for that, which will be whatever assets that you have," he said.
Kaempf is next due in court at 10:30 a.m. Friday for his initial appearance with counsel. Morrison said if the defendant's parents cannot hire an attorney by that time, a continuance would be granted.
If that happens, the judge said he would expect the next appearance to be in about two weeks from Friday.
"The selection of an attorney in a matter of this importance is very critical," Morrison said.
Schraven said he doesn't foresee Kaempf qualifying for a public defender even if his house is appraised at a much lesser value. He said the limit for a homicide case is $17,500 and Kaempf has about $4,100 in a bank account plus an IRA.
When asked if he had anything to say, District Attorney Allen Brey said he did not have an opportunity to contact the victim's family prior to this "rapidly scheduled" hearing. He said he did attempt to make a couple of phone calls to Waschbisch's parents.
"No meaningful opportunity was afforded to the victim's family to appear here today," Brey said.
Morrison said he considered that fact, but his concern was to get an attorney involved at the earliest possible time in the case. He thanked the DA's office for making an attempt to contact the victim's family and for being available on short notice.
Waschbisch, 45, was stabbed in the neck by Kaempf in the bathroom of the home they shared together in Peshtigo late April 27, according to the criminal complaint. She was found the evening of April 28 by her teenage daughter.
Kaempf was located by a Wauwatosa, Wis., police officer in the early morning hours of April 29, the complaint states. He was sleeping in his Mustang outside a closed business and apparently on his way to Illinois, according to the complaint.
Kaempf, charged with first-degree intentional homicide, is being held in the Marinette County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Waschbisch was an adult legal advocate and interim director of the Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services in Marinette. She had been with that organization since 2001.