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UPDATE: Man found mentally ill in fatal Madison beating


UPDATE: A homeless man has been ordered committed to a state mental hospital for up to 46 years for the fatal beating of another homeless man in Madison.

Justin Brooks

UPDATED Thursday, June 5, 2014 --- 10:19 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A homeless man has been ordered committed to a state mental hospital for up to 46 years for the fatal beating of another homeless man in Madison.

Thirty-three-year-old Justin Brooks pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree reckless homicide. Brooks was accused of beating 61-year-old Robert Kuntz with a table leg as Kuntz slept on the Capitol Square nearly a year ago.

But the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/1oy8IA5) reports Brooks was found not guilty by reason of mental illness and was ordered committed.

Under a plea agreement, a first-degree intentional homicide charge against Brooks was reduced to reckless homicide.

One of Brooks' lawyers says Brooks did not know Kuntz, and armed himself with a table leg because he thought Kuntz was armed with a knife and was out to get him.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, August 29, 2013 --- 11:55 a.m.

A Madison man accused of fatally beating a homeless man with a table leg will stand trial.

According to court records, Justin Brooks was bound over for trial this morning in Dane Co. Court.

Brooks is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the June 19th death of 61-year-old Robert Kuntz.

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UPDATED Friday, August 16, 2013 --- 6:17 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A defendant accused of fatally beating a homeless man with a table leg in Madison has been found competent to stand trial.

Thirty-two-year-old Justin Brooks is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the June 19th death of 61-year-old Robert Kuntz.

Dane County Circuit Court Commissioner Todd Muerer found Brooks competent Thursday following a psychiatric exam.

The State Journal reports Assistant State Public Defender Jon Helland told the judge that medication Brooks has been receiving in jail for his mental illness has made a significant difference in his ability to understand the case against him.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, June 24, 2013 --- 6:02 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A 31-year-old homeless man charged with beating another homeless man to death in Madison will undergo a competency evaluation.

Justin Books of Madison appeared in court for the first time Monday after refusing to come to court Friday, when a criminal complaint against him was filed.

Brooks is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly beating 61-year-old Robert Kuntz to death with a table leg last week.

Kuntz was beaten June 18 on the Capitol Square near the Wisconsin State Capitol. He died the next day.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Assistant State Public Defender Jon Helland said that Brooks will be examined to determine whether he understands the charges against him and is able to assist in his defense.

Bail is set at $105,000. Brooks remains in jail.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Friday June 21, 2013--- 5:40 p.m.

Justin Brooks is accused of beating Robert Kuntz to death.

The criminal complaint indicates Brooks beat a homeless man to death used a wooden table leg.

A witness said just minutes afterwards, Brooks was seemingly regretful, pacing around asking if he was OK and yelling out to call an ambulance.

There was a vigil held earlier this week for Kuntz, described as a really nice guy.

Police reports indicate Brooks was with his girlfriend, Robin Cook, at the time. She said they took a bus to the area. Cook said Brooks went off to get cigarette butts and came back with the wooden table leg. She doesn't know why he got violent and said he realized afterwards he got the "wrong guy." Who he may have actually been after remains a mystery. A witness said this could have surrounded an incident at a hotel earlier in the week. He said he heard Brooks say something like "this was the guy that pulled the knife."

Brooks was due in court Friday, but that was postponed until Monday. Steve Hutchinson claims to be his best friend of seven years was in the courtroom Friday. He said he is shocked by the news.

"I don't believe it. There's gotta be something else that's not being told because Justin would never do such a thing, just walk up to somebody and attack him like that," said Hutchinson.

Brooks has 25 prior criminal convictions. For this incident, he faces charges of first degree intentional homicide.

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UPDATED Friday June 21, 2013 -- 2:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis.-- The Dane County Medical Examiner's Officer released the name of the homeless beaten to death this week on the Capital Square.

Robert O. Kuntz, age 61, was beaten early Tuesday morning. He died Wednesday night from his injures.

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UPDATED Friday June 21, 2013 --- 8:25 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Madison police say they expect one homeless man will be charged in the beating death of another.

The 61-year-old victim died Wednesday night after he was beaten across the street from the state Capitol.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain tells the Wisconsin State Journal that a 32-year-old man was arrested soon after on a tentative charge of first-degree intentional homicide. He could appear Friday in court, where it will be up to prosecutors to file formal charges.

DeSpain says a third homeless man reported seeing the 32-year-old beat the older man. He says the reason for the attack is not yet known.

Court records show the 32-year-old has a long criminal history, including drug convictions, battery and intimidating a victim.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATE Thursday, June 20, 2013 --- 4:53 a.m.

The 61 year old homeless man brutally attacked in downtown Madison on Tuesday night died from his injuries.

The man died at the U.W Hospital just after 10 Wednesday night. Police have not released his name.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 --- 9:40pm

Candles, guitars, and a lot of praying: that was the scene outside the state capitol, Wednesday night.

Dozens gathered to show support for a homeless man, named Bob. Early Tuesday morning, on North Pinckney, Bob was brutally beaten.

"I first met him a few years ago when I moved to Madison,. I couldn't believe something like that could happen to him” says Dave Peters, a friend of the victim.

Bob is now in the hospital, barely alive.

"Bob was the kind of guy who would go out of his way to help people” says Peters.

In addition to supporting Bob, folks at the vigil also spoke out against street violence, attacks against the homeless, and the need for change.

"Someone sizes us up, looks us up and down and says we're poor, go home, we don't belong” says one woman in attendance.

Justin Brooks, 32, is currently in the Dane County Jail. He was arrested in connection with the attack and is being charged with attempted homicide.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 --- 10:10pm

Carrie Riddle volunteers helping the homeless in Madison. She brings food, blankets, whatever's needed. She was revolted by news that one of the men she helps was brutally beaten early Tuesday morning.

"I was pretty disgusted by the whole thing. I know him. He's actually a very sweet man and he never bothers anybody” Riddle tells NBC 15.

Police say the beating happened around 2:30 am Tuesday on North Pinckney Street, near the state capitol.

A witness says she saw another man beating the 61-year old homeless man in the head.

Police arrested 32-year-old Justin Brooks of Madison in connection with the attack. He has been charged with one count of attempted homicide and was taken to the Dane County Jail.

The homeless man, who was beaten in the attack, remains in critical, life-threatening condition.

Riddle says she's run into similar issues, in the past.

"It happens all the time and it goes unreported, because no one's gonna believe you” she says.

Riddle used to be homeless and recalls a traumatic incident.

"I was gang raped by a bunch of college students. The police didn't believe me. No one believed me. I was a teenager. I was a runaway. Who would believe me?” she says.

She says action must be taken to prevent violence among the homeless.

"One of the things that would help is affordable housing. We don't have that in Madison and that's something that needs to be looked at” Riddle says.

Riddle also says society needs an attitude adjustment.

"I think we need to start teaching kids at a young age that they're people. They're not some cat to kick or squirrel to shoot. They're actually people."

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UPDATED: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 --- 9:01 p.m.

A Madison man has been arrested and charged with 1 count of Attempted Homicide after allegedly beating a homeless man.
Justin T. Brooks, 32-years-old, was taken to the Dane County Jail.

A significantly injured man was found on a N. Pinckney St. sidewalk early this morning, across the street from the State Capitol.

A witness, who had been sleeping on a nearby bench, indicated he awoke to a disturbance where one man appeared to be battering a 61-year old in the head.

The injured man was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

He was also sleeping in the area at the time of the assault. Detectives believe this was a targeted attack.

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Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 --- 1:10 p.m.

In what police describe as a targeted attack, a 61-year-old homeless man in the downtown area was severely beaten early this morning, and taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

It happened on North Pinckney Street around 2:30 a.m. The man was found on the sidewalk across the street from the State Capitol.

A witness was sleeping on a nearby bench, and says he woke up and saw another man beating the 61-year old in the head. The victim was also asleep when he was assaulted.


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