Wis. Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty
HAYWARD, Wis. – A man accused of shooting six fellow deer hunters to death and wounding two others after he was caught trespassing in the woods pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Chai Soua Vang (search), 36, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and will stand trial on six counts of murder and three of attempted murder. A judge set a trial date of Sept. 12.
Vang's lawyer, Steven Kohn, said the defense was considering whether Vang should change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Kohn would not elaborate.
The gunfire broke out Nov. 21 after some hunters discovered the Hmong (search) immigrant in a tree stand — a platform used to watch for deer — on their land.
Vang has suggested he acted in self-defense, telling investigators the victims fired a shot at him first and berated him with racist slurs.
The St. Paul, Minn., truck driver is behind bars on $2.5 million bail. He could get life in prison. Wisconsin does not have a death penalty.
Prosecutors added the third count of attempted murder Wednesday, accusing Vang of two distinct attempts to kill one hunter.
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who is personally handling the case against Vang, appeared in court as a prosecutor Wednesday for the first time since she was elected in 2002.
The last case she prosecuted was the kidnapping of a 12-year-old girl in the late 1990s, when she was a U.S. attorney.
She has said she wants to prosecute Vang because of her "personal interest" in cases that involve crimes against people.