HAYWARD, Wis. – A Minnesota man accused of fatally shooting six deer hunters in the woods of northern Wisconsin appeared in a makeshift courtroom Tuesday a day after charges were filed against him.
During a brief five-minute hearing held in a basement classroom at the Sawyer County Sheriff's Department, Chai Vang (search), 36, of St. Paul, waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days and one was set instead for Dec. 29.
The criminal complaint filed Monday said the hunters managed to shoot back once — maybe twice — after a confrontation about trespassing.
Two survivors told investigators no one in their group pointed a gun at the Hmong (search) immigrant before he opened fire in an assault that had four of the victims shot in the back, according to the complaint.
He was charged in Sawyer County Circuit Court (search) with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, each carrying a life prison term, and two counts of attempted murder.
Defense attorney Steven Kohn said Vang was mentally competent to understand the charges against him and participate in proceedings in the case.
The hearing was held in a basement classroom because the sheriff could not make the courthouse secure without massive efforts, Judge Norman Yackel said.
The judge read the charges and asked Vang if he understood them.
"Yes," replied the handcuffed defendant, who was wearing an orange jail jump suit and shackles on his legs.
Vang told the judge he was not under the influence of drugs. Yackel also asked Vang about his education, and he said he gone to a two-year college.
Bond remained at $2.5 million, but Kohn said he reserved the right to address that issue later.
The defense attorney declined after the hearing to discuss the case or describe Vang's emotional state.