Judge: Andrew Steele should be released from mental health facility

UPDATED Friday, March 4, 2016---3:38 p.m.

MADISON, Wis.-- A local judge said a former Dane County Deputy should be released from a mental health facility.

Andrew Steele is currently at Mendota Mental Health Institute for killing his wife and sister-in-law in 2014. The jury found Steele lacked mental capacity at the time of the homicides due to a mental disease or defect.

Steele suffers from Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS.

Last month his attorney asked Judge Mcnamara to release him because of his deteriorating condition.

According to court documents released Friday, the judge said Steele has, "The mind of a killer", but because of his disease the judge ruled he is no longer a threat to the public.

In Steele's February hearing, experts testified that due to the progression of Steele's ALS he would not have the physical ability to harm himself or others.

Judge Mcnamara described Steele as a "man with a dangerous mind trapped in a powerless, paralytic body ravaged by an irreversible and unrelenting disease."

The judge did talk about the possibility of Steele arranging a third person to do harm. He wrote the court will set conditions for Steele's release including restrictions to access of large amounts of money as a precaution.

The Putnam's have custody of Steele's two children. Judge Mcnamara said he is confident the children will be protected from psychological and bodily harm.

Another concern for Steele was his need for a ventilator in the future. According to the judge, the Mendota Mental Health Institute cannot provide one and Steele would not be able to access facilities that could unless he is granted release.

"His nearly total incapacitation from ALS means he will never be moving freely in the community, and that is much more important than exactly where he lives whether he is connected to a ventilator or not," wrote Mcnamara.

Mcnamara said where Steele will live will be determined by his medical needs. Right now Steele needs around the clock care and cannot move independently due to the progression of his disease.

An exact location of where Steele will be moved has yet to be determined.

The judge will discuss conditions of Steele's release at a hearing scheduled for May.

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UPDATED Thursday, February 11, 2016--- 10:06 p.m.

MADISON, Wis.--- Andrew Steele's defense team brought in medical experts to explain why Steele, given the progression of his disease, is not dangerous and should be released from Mendota Mental Health Institute.

"Essentially he is relegated to a chair as the courtroom can see today. He needs support to get into and out of that chair." said expert witness and psychiatrist Dr. Burr Eichelman.

Hours later, Brad Putnam, the brother of Ashlee and Kacee, and his wife Rachelle argued that Steele still poses a risk to their family. Brad and Rachelle Putnam have custody of Ashlee's children.

"If he were to be released, nothing would keep him from intruding into our lives whenever he sees fit. He shouldn't get to make those kinds of decision." said Rachelle Putnam.

In light of Steele's recent mental evaluations, Judge McNamara said he believes the original verdict was incorrect.

"On the one hand, I have to face a family and public and community where I just said out loud that I don't think this man had a mental illness that caused him to commit these murders," said Judge Nicholas McNamara.

Judge McNamara then explained the challenge in the decision he now has to make.

"Or I have to tell a man, his family, and the public, that a man who can't move, can't feed himself, can't move in and out of a chair, very shortly he may not be able to speak, and his ability to breath is compromised. I'd have to tell him that he's still dangerous." said Judge McNamara.

Judge McNamara has 90 days to decide on the conditional release of Andrew Steele.
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UPDATED Thursday, February 11, 2016 --- 7:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- Dane County Judge Nicholas McNamara says he needs to take some time to decide whether Andrew Steele should be released from the Mendota Mental Health Institute.

During a hearing Thursday, Steele's attorneys asked that he be released from the Institute due to his failing health. Steele suffers from ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The court heard from two different expert witnesses, both doctors.
The two both said Steele poses no serious risk to himself or others. Doctors say they considered his current mental and physical health when deciding.

"He's been tube fed which needs to be managed by nursing or nursing support. He needs support for toileting, he needs to support for any kind of independent movement," expert witness Dr. Burr Eichelman said. "The progression of disease is such that he may if he chooses the artificial ventilation support in order to keep him breathing."

The Putnam family did also make a statement. Brad Putnam is the brother of the two victims and he and his wife Rachelle took in Steele's children and they feel he still poses a risk.

"Our entire family is continuing to deal with the pain and loss of Ashlee and Kacee. While we are trying our best to heal and move forward through our grieve, we are still very raw in many ways," Rachelle Putnam, the victims' sister-in-law said. "The idea of Andy being released into the general public scares me to death. I simply do not trust him. Ashlee and Kacee trusted him and he took their lives."

But after a lengthy statement following summary arguments Judge Nicholas McNamara said he needs more time, adding this decision is more of a process and he wants to get it right.

Judge McNamara says no other evidence will be considered after Thursday. He says he has 90 days to make a decision but he assured the courtroom it won't take that long.
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UPDATED Thursday, February 11, 2016 --- 5:44 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- Dane Co. Judge Nicholas McNamara says he needs to take some time to decide whether Andrew Steele should be released from the Mendota Mental Health Institute.

During a hearing Thursday, Steele's attorneys asked that he be released from the Institute due to his failing health. Steele suffers from ALS.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MADISON, Wis. -- Lawyers for a former Dane County Sheriff's Deputy who killed his wife and sister-in-law are asking for his release from the Mendota Mental Health Institute.

Andrew Steele was convicted in April of this year. The jury ruled he lacked the mental capacity at the time of the homicides because of his disease. Steele suffers from ALS.

A petition for his conditional release was filed in Dane County court on Monday.

The prosecution has said in the past that if a petition is filed, they will look at evidence once more.

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UPDATED: Friday, May 22, 2015 --- 5:21 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- The former Dane county deputy who admitted to shooting and killing his wife and her sister will be sent to the Mendota Mental Health Institute.

Today was the first time Andrew Steele spoke at length. He had some difficulty speaking due to the progression of his disease. However, in a tearful testimony, he said his family was extremely close.

"Some families are close, some are not so close. This family is among the closest," said Steele.

But when Hailee Meisterling, the two victims' sister, took the stand before Steele's statement, she made it clear that her family has been living in fear.

"We're all afraid for our lives and need to know that he's locked away and unable to harm anyone else, my children were sobbing knowing that I had to go to court and he would be in the same room with me. they believed he would kill me too, " said Meisterling.

After considering evidence, the court decided to commit Steele to Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison. Steele's attorney however, says she expects to be back in court in the future as his condition deteriorates further.

"I expect that we will be back, as everyone heard, part of the report anticipates that one day his physical condition will make him no longer dangerous," said Jessa Nicholson, Steele's attorney.

The prosecution says, when and if he petitions for a conditional release, they will look at the evidence once more.

"We will examine and study any report that is prepared and presented by the doctor who evaluates him and based on that review determine whether there are additional facts that ought to be considered," said Paul Barnett.

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UPDATED Friday, May 22, 2015 -- 12:10pm

MADISON, Wis. --- The former deputy who admitted to shooting and killing his wife and sister-in-law will be sent to a mental hospital.

During a court hearing this morning a judge decided to send Andrew Steele to the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Steele could have been released under supervision.

Last month a jury in his trial determined he lacked mental capacity at the time of the homicides due to a mental disease or defect.

Steele admitted to shooting his wife and sister-in-law inside the Steele's Fitchburg home in August 2014.

Steele had recently retired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office after being diagnosed with ALS.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 23, 2015 --- 10:00 p.m.

"To steal a phrase from Aaron Sorkin, this case was won by the lawyers," Attorney Anthony Jurek said.

The criminal law attorney was surprised to hear the verdict early Thursday morning.

He says this win for the defense cannot set a precedent, but it can set a road map for other attorneys.

"It is unique and will be inspiration to other lawyers in terms of letting them know avenues they can take in order to get justice for their clients, it isn't precedent setting in a sense that someone could go to the Supreme Court and cite the Steele case as a precedent. The decision in this case is only binding on this case," he added.

Steele will remain in jail for now, and a judge will decide later if he should be sent to a treatment center for his brain disorder.

There is the possibility he could be released back into the community, if it's determined he is not a threat.

You may wonder how that can happen, for a man who admitted to killing two people.

Jurek doesn't think it will happen.

"From what I heard Mr. Steele's life expectancy is not very long so effectively what this was about was is we was going to die in the custody of the Department of Corrections or the Department of Health Services," he said.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 23, 2015 --- 1:33 a.m.

Jurors in the trial of Andrew Steele determined he lacked mental capacity at the time of the homicides due to a mental disease or defect. Ten of twelve jurors reached the verdict. The jury didn't need to make a unanimous decision, only 10 to 12 need to agree.

The judge has committed Steele to the state Department of Health Services for life.

Steele is the former Dane County Deputy who was diagnosed with ALS and then months later killed his wife, Ashlee, and her sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol.

Steele pleaded guilty but says he wasn't responsible and the disease caused him to do it.

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 22, 2015---3:06 p.m.

MADISON, Wis:---Andrew Steele's fate is now in the hands of the jury. Closing arguments wrapped up this afternoon.

Steele is the former Dane County Deputy who was diagnosed with ALS and then months later killed his wife and her sister-in-law.

He's pleaded guilty but says he's not responsible that the disease caused him to do it.

The trial has been going on for two weeks.

According to the defense, Steele had no idea what he was doing, but the state says Andy knew his ALS would kill him soon and didn't want to go out alone.

In Dane County there's no limit on how long the jury can take to deliberate. The only question they have to answer is "Is Steele responsible for the deaths?" And in this case the jury doesn't need to make a unanimous decision, only 10 to 12 people need to agree.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 --- 6:54 p.m.

MADISON, Wis.--- Several doctors testified for the state Tuesday in the trial against a former Dane County Deputy who killed his wife and her sister.

Andrew Steele killed his wife, Ashlee, and her sister, Kacee, in August of 2014, just months after being diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative neurological disorder. He has since pleaded guilty but says he's not responsible, the disease is.

The defense says this was kinky sex gone wrong. Andrew Steele claims he tied his wife up with zip ties and the one around her neck got too tight, that's when he says he doesn't remember what happened next.

Tuesday, the state mapped out the inconsistencies in Steeles' story. He told a doctor that his wife took off her sundress before he tied her up, but pictures of the crime scene showed her dress around her thighs.

Steele also told a doctor on the day of the killings that they started out using handcuffs but switched to zip ties because the cuffs were too loud.

However, the prosecutors are questioning his story about their sex life. The psychologist questioned that if Steele had indeed had this type of sex with his wife before, he would have known the metal on metal would make a noise.

Tomorrow, the defense is expected to have rebuttal witnesses and then closing arguments will be heard from each side. After that, it will be up to the jury.
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UPDATED: Friday, April 17, 2015 --- 6:29 p.m.

MADISON, Wis --- Andrew Steele's trial continues at the Dane County Courthouse, and today jurors heard from his parents, and were presented with dozens of photo and physical evidence for the case.

In a tearful testimony, Phyllis Steele, Andrew Steele's mother, claimed her son is not violent, but did display a few behavioral changes.

"He always is kind of animated and when he talks and you know his eyes, and it wasn't. it was just very like a resting face. And he didn't have a lot of humor to share," said Phyllis Steele.

Steele's father, William Steele Sr. had similar things to say about his behavior, but nothing of a violent nature.

Prosecutor: "did you observe any incidences, where he acted or threatened violence?"

William Steele: ".....no."

A neurologist also took the stand. His testimony focused on finding connections between ALS patients and a tendency towards violence.

Prosecutor: "Are any of them committing homicides?"
Dr. Paul Barkhaus: "No, not to my knowledge."
Prosecutor: "Are any of them committing any violent acts to you know knowledge?"
Barkhaus: "No, again it's more of kind of like bumbling things."

Along with hearing from seven witnesses, jurors saw over two dozen photographs from the crime scene.

It was a long day and an already long week for everyone involved in the trial, but it is expected to continue throughout next week.

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UPDATED: Thursday, April 16, 2015 --- 7:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A prosecutor contends a former Wisconsin deputy with Lou Gehrig's disease planned the killings of his wife and sister-in-law.

Assistant District Attorney Paul Barnett made his opening statement Thursday in the trial of Andrew Steele. Steele has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease in the August shooting deaths of his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Barnett asked jurors to listen to testimony for clues that Steele acted with forethought before the killings. Barnett also said jurors should consider whether Steele "sought to manufacture the crime scene in a way to fit his story."

On Wednesday, a forensic psychiatrist testified for the defense that he believes Steele's brain was deteriorating because of ALS.

Copyright: Associated Press 2015
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UPDATED Thursday, April 16, 2015---8:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A forensic psychiatrist has testified that Lou Gehrig's disease is the reason a former Dane County sheriff's deputy killed his wife and sister-in-law.

Andrew Steele has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease in the shooting deaths last August of his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

Taking the stand for the defense Wednesday, Dr. Doug Tucker testified that a message Steele wrote about suicide and sexual relations with his wife and sister-in-law is delusional and shows Steele's brain was deteriorating because of ALS. Tucker said that was the reason Steele killed the two and that he was "unable to conform his conduct to the law."

Steele was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease last June.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press
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UPDATED: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 --- 2:22 p.m.

MADISON, Wis.---The trial for the former Dane County Deputy who killed his wife and sister-in-law continued today.

Andrew Steele killed his wife, Ashlee, and her sister, Kacee, in August of 2014, just months after being diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative neurological disorder.

Steele has pleaded guilty, but says he's not responsible for his actions, his disease is. The jury is charged with determining if he's responsible or not.

Since August, police have said these homicides were premeditated, referring to a note found on Steele's iPhone. That note was finally shown to the jury today. Detailing a three way relationship between Steele and the victims, and a suicide pact.

Dr. Doug Tucker, a witness for the defense, says this note is proof that Steele was delusional at the time of the homicides, and made all of this up in his head.

This note was created August 21st (the day before the homicides) and was last edited on August 22nd at 6:00 a.m.

It reads as follows:

"OK Girls were going to write something then last minute then backed out. Thought I was better writer delivery to speak on their behalf. Started many years ago with KC w/Allen - Ashlee totally against it maybe two years before divorce. Traveled to mad to talk about it convinced bad idea. Wanted to live with us; we have had sexual relations since the last three years is KC's marriage. Increased significantly during relationship with Keleb; numerous threesome's with me having sex with both. Stopped almost abruptly when KC met Mark. Only one time early on in their relationship. KC & Ashlee done with suicide until my diagnosis. Ashlee first, then on cruise KC wanted it done immediately; like suggested we jump off the boat deck one night - the three of us. Ashlee and I both insisted bad idea and refuse. I said we all get together and have sex and co in cars. Ashlee said new cars won't do that anymore. KC first- then Ashlee said me service gun - me last. I totally refuse this because I know the ballistics. They were adamant totally focused. Ashlee was convinced she would die of something shortly after me and did not want the kids to suffer two back/to back tragedies. I argues with her, including the fact that my mom hates Ashlee, but she agreed they are the best parents to take them through the rest of their teen years. We demanded Pam come over to witness/ w/Josh sign last will testament that my parents get all assets and kids. This was Wednesday. We wanted rondo it right away, but felt last supper at l'toilet was perfect. KC had a lot to say to kids, but could not do it. She broke down. She just said that Mark was better parent then the both could ever be. And realized she could never actually work/sucees asbe a nurse, or anything that would help the family. This was way more hard for Ashlee and I as well. KC and I wanted this in mid July, but Ashlee insisted it was better after marriage due to Mark being obligated w/ kids - they though about this bc Ashlee said mark would be gonzo if her was not married and KC said he was committed even wo her. KC later admitted that the combo between parents and mark would be good. So we waited until after marriage. Our message to kids was don't ever feel bad about anything that you ever said to us - you are kids and we totally understand and just laughed at it all. We both love you to the moon and back. My parents will be way better as they are young for their age - than just Ashlee. She talked about that a lot We had a great run and wanted to go our with a bang so to speak.... We busted our ass and gave it everything to raise money and we did good, but fell way short. Only enough for my voice machine, which I would have needed soon. Please use all donation money for kids needs/ mom dad stay in this house, retire and focus on the kids needs. You can use your assets combined with ours for everything needed. You will be awesome. Tragic, but they are lucky at the same time. See you all on the other side..."

Previous testimony in court has confirmed parts of this note are true. Josh Nordstrum, a friend of Steele testified Tuesday that he was asked to come over to sign the couples will and said that Andrew Steele seemed very anxious. The threesome's waiter at L'Etoile testified that they all came in for dinner the night before the homicides.

Hailee Meisterling, the sister of the victims, took the stand today and told jurors that Steele had become overly sexual with her on a family trip after his diagnosis.

"He knew I was getting changed and he came into the room knowing I was getting changed into my swimsuit," Meisterling said. She said it happened another time on the trip, "I was in their room and he just started taking his pants off."

However, Meisterling said there was an instance even before his diagnosis that she heard about.

Meisterling said Ashlee called her about two years ago and was upset about a situation that happened when she was on a trip with Kacee and Andy.

"She was extremely upset because Kacee and Andy were downstairs on the lower level of their house and Ashlee came downstairs and witnessed something, something enough that she was extremely upset about it and called me," Meisterling said.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 --- 5:30 p.m.

The trial for former Dane County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Steele has gotten underway. Steele has pleaded guilty to killing his wife and sister-in-law in August, but says he's not responsible. Steele was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative disorder last June.

On Tuesday, the defense detailed Steele's condition, trying to convince the jury that he isn't responsible for the August crimes and his mental state caused him to kill. Friends and doctors testified. The defense is trying to convince 10 of the 12 jurors that it was Steele's disease, ALS, that caused him to fatally shoot his wife and sister-in-law.

Witness after witness described being devastated, surprised and shocked, saying the Steele's were a cookie-cutter family. Friends did acknowledge Steele seemed depressed after his ALS diagnosis and was drinking excessively.

Steele claims he blacked out during the killings. And today, the defense kicked things off detailing Steele's condition and how science will prove him not responsible.

The prosecution disagrees. The State asked all witnesses if Steele had memory issues before that day in August, and they all said no. The trial is expected to continue into next week.

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UPDATED: Sunday, April 12, 2015 --- 10:40 p.m.

The trial for Andrew Steele begins Monday. Steele pleaded guilty but not responsible for killing his wife, Ashlee Steele, and sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol. Criminal defense attorney Anthony Jurek, who isn't part of the case, discussed what to expect from the trial.

Steele's plea requires the defense team to prove his mental state prevented him from understanding what he was doing was wrong, or that his mental state caused him to kill Ashlee and Kacee.

Unlike most other cases with this plea, Jurek said Steele's case is unique because it does not involve a psychiatric condition. Rather, Steele has ALS, which is a degenerative neurological disorder.

"It's not entirely unique, but it's rare," Jurek said.

While the burden in most criminal cases falls on the prosecution to build and prove a case, in Steele's case, it falls on the defense to prove to the jury he is not responsible because of his mental state. Also, the jury does not have to make a unanimous decision, the case requires 5/6 of the jury (10 out of 12 jurors) to agree.

Jurek said these factors, combined with Steele being a former law enforcement officer, make the case particularly unusual.

"It wouldn't surprise me if this case was historic," he said.

For some who knew Ashlee, the trial reopens the wounds from Ashlee's death.

"I'm praying especially for Ashlee's family just for peace for them because I know this is all bringing this back up for us here, so I can imagine for them it's even worse," said Ashlee's friend and co-worker, Karen Hettenbach.
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UPDATED: Thursday, April 9, 2015 --- 10:16 a.m.

MADISON, Wis.--- A former Dane County sheriff's deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law had a status conference Thursday morning.

Andrew Steele is charged in the deaths of Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsbol last August. He was diagnosed with ALS last June.

Steele has since pleaded guilty to the charges, but says he is not responsible. The jurors will have to decide whether Steele will be held responsible.

The trial will start next week.
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UPDATED: Friday, March 27, 2015 --- 10:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis.-- A former Dane County sheriff's deputy has changed his plea to guilty, but not responsible in the killings of his wife and sister-in-law.

Andrew Steele is charged with first-degree homicide in the killings of his wife and her sister last August. He originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect.

The judge asked Steele Friday if he was pressured or threatened into changing the plea, to which he responded "no." Steele said he pleaded guilty because he believes he is guilty.

His trial is scheduled to begin April 13th. If it does proceed, the trial would determine whether a sentence could include parole.

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Friday, February 27, 2015 --- 4:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A former Dane County sheriff's deputy has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the killings of his wife and sister-in-law.

Forty-year-old Andrew Steele, of Fitchburg, was diagnosed with terminal ALS in June. The defense says his disease causes poor impulse control and affects his ability to obey the law.

Steele is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killings of his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, at the Steeles' home Aug. 22. His trial is scheduled to begin April 13.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/17Enpin ) that Steele was wheeled into the courtroom for a pretrial conference Friday. It says his speech sounded slurred, his tongue thick, as he spoke briefly, but that he otherwise appeared engaged and attentive.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press

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UPDATED: Friday, February 20, 2015 --- 11:10 a.m.

MADISON, Wis.--- A former Dane County Sheriff's deputy charged with killing his wife and sister-in-law is anticipated to plead not guilty for reason of mental disease or defect.

Andrew Steele suffers from ALS and according to court documents, the progression of Steele's ALS has impacted the "emotional response" center of his brain.

Court documents indicate that several experts will testify about behavioral changes and psychological effects as a result of damage to that part of the brain. Other specialists will testify as to the effects of prescription and over the counter medication on Steele.

Steele retired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office after being diagnosed with ALS.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. One of those counts include a charge of domestic violence against Steele's wife.
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UPDATED Monday, November 17, 2014 --- 12:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. --- A trial date has been set for Andrew Steele, the former deputy who is charged with killing his wife and sister-in-law.

The April 13th trial date was set during a hearing today. Steele, who is suffering from ALS, was in a wheelchair while in court.

Steele is accused of shooting and killing his wife and sister-in-law in his Fitchburg home in August.

Steele retired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office after being diagnosed with ALS.

Steele is charged with two counts of First Degree Intentional Homicide. One of those counts includes a charge of Domestic Violence against Steele's wife.

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UPDATED: Thursday, September 11th, 2014 ---- 7:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. --- In court Thursday, prosecutors say Andrew Steele, the former Dane County Sheriff's Deputy planned the murders of his wife and sister-in-law.
According to court documents, Steele left a note on his phone detailing his plan, including different methods of homicide. They say, Steele was "insistent" that Kacee, his sister-in-law visit their home without her husband and children.
The defendant also signed his will, and his wife's will within 36 hours of the homicides.
Family members have also communicated to authorities that Steele told them his wife may be absent in the future to care for their two children.
His bail was raised to $2 million.
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UPDATED Thursday, September 4, 2014 --- 10:42 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- There is sufficient evidence for a former Dane County deputy to stand trial on two homicide charges, according to the judge in Andrew Steele's preliminary hearing.

Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert made the decision during a hearing where a detective testified one of the victims told him Steele was the man who did the shooting.

Steele is accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law in his Fitchburg home last month.

The sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol, was able to tell police that Steele shot her. She was shot in the back. Steele's wife, Ashlee, was shot in the head.

Steele resigned his job with Dane County in June when he was diagnosed with ALS.

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UPDATED Thursday, September 4, 2014 --- 5:20 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A former southern Wisconsin sheriff's deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law is due back in court.

Andrew Steele is scheduled to appear in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday morning for a preliminary hearing. That's the step in the legal process where a judge decides whether there's enough evidence to order a trial.

Prosecutors charged Steele last week with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the deaths of his wife, Ashlee Steele, and sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol. Police found both women shot in the Steeles' home in Fitchburg, a Madison suburb, on Aug. 22.

Steele resigned from the Dane County Sheriff's Department in June after he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Sunday, August 31, 2014 --- 10:38 p.m.

Friends, neighbors, co-workers and community members gathered in Fitchburg tonight to remember and honor Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsbol.

"She was always just so full of joy and ready with a smile," said Ashlee's friend and co-worker, Elsa Gumm.

The vigil was the first opportunity for people to come together in Fitchburg to remember Ashlee. The sisters' family held a funeral service for both women in Minnesota on Friday.

Church leaders spoke tonight, emphasizing the importance of coming together during the difficult time.

"All we can do is encourage people that this will all work out in some way," said Rev. Phil Haslanger with Memorial United Church of Christ.

Multiple churches came together to hold the candlelight vigil tonight and offer support for each other.

Ashlee's pastor, Jeff Meyer, remembered her as a woman who radiated with positivity.

"Ashlee lit up every room she walked into," he said.

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UPDATED Friday, August 29, 2014 -- 1:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. --- The former Dane County deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law has been charged.

Andrew Steele is officially charged with two counts of First Degree Intentional Homicide. One of those counts includes a charge of Domestic Violence against Steele's wife.

Andrew Steele had an initial court appearance Friday afternoon. He appeared via video from the Rock County Jail. The Dane County judge set bail at $1 million and told Steele he could not have contact with his children.

Last Friday 39-year-old Ashlee Steele and her sister 38-year-old Kacee Tollesbol were shot and killed inside the Steele's home in Fitchburg.

Before she died Kacee told responding officers that Andrew Steele had shot her in the back.

Andrew Steele was found inside the home and taken into custody.

The funeral for Ashlee and Kacee is today in Minnesota.

Steele retired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office shortly after being diagnosed with ALS. There are no reports of police calls to the Steele home before last Friday.

Andrew Steele's next court hearing is scheduled for September 4th.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- Family members say they've been told a recently retired Wisconsin sheriff's deputy is due in court this week in the shooting deaths of his wife and sister-in-law.

Dan DuPuis of Hudson, an uncle of the two sisters, says the Dane County district attorney authorized him to say that former Deputy Andy Steele is out of the hospital and now in jail.

Police say Steele was treated at a hospital for injuries consistent with a suicide attempt.
DuPuis says Steele makes his first court appearance Friday via closed circuit TV. Steele hasn't been charged yet.

Steele was arrested after an attack at his Fitchburg home Friday that left his wife, Ashlee Steele, and her sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, dead.

DuPuis says Andy Steele was struggling with his recent ALS diagnosis.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED: Monday, August 25th, 2014 ----- 10:50 pm

New details in the horrific crime in Fitchburg, with a Dane County Sheriff's Deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law. Authorities have released the affidavit; where one of the women tells a 911 dispatcher 39-year-old Andy Steele was the person who shot her before she died.

According to police, 38-year-old Kacee Tollefsbol was still alive when authorities arrived at the home on Friday. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital, from a from a gunshot wound to the back. Her sister and also Andy Steele's wife, Ashlee, was found in the home with a gunshot wound to the head. The medical examiner confirms she died from that injury.

Andy Steele was found in the first floor laundry room with a handgun nearby but did not have a gunshot wound.
He's currently being treated at a Milwaukee hospital for injuries consistent with a suicide attempt.
Memorial funds have been opened to benefit the children. If you would like to donate you can at any Wells Fargo branch. A celebration of life service is scheduled for Friday at 2 pm in Stillwater, Minnesota.

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UPDATED: Monday, August 24, 2014 --- 6:00 p.m.

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) -- A funeral is planned this week in Minnesota for two sisters who were fatally shot in Wisconsin.

An obituary notice says a celebration of life will be held Friday at 2 p.m. for 39-year-old Ashlee Steele and 38-year-old Kacee Tollefsbol. The service will take place at the Church of St. Michael in Stillwater.

The sisters were fatally shot at Steele's home in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, last Friday. Steele's husband, retired Dane County sheriff's deputy Andrew Steele, has been arrested in the shootings.

Andrew Steele retired in June after he was diagnosed with ALS. Charges have not been filed.

The Steeles have two children while Tollefsbol, who lived in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, was the mother of four.

Memorial funds have been set up at Wells Fargo to benefit the sisters' children.
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UPDATED: Sunday, August 24, 2014 --- 9:20 p.m.

Friends and co-workers are mourning the loss of Ashlee Steele tonight. She's being remembered as a loving mom, wife, friend and teacher.

Ashlee taught three-year-old's at Christ Memorial Preschool in Fitchburg. Karen Hettenbach, Preschool Director, was friends with Ashlee for years, and can't comprehend her friend and fellow teacher is gone.

"It was fun to look in her classroom and see the kids all excited, and she was the reason why," Hettenbach said.

Ashlee was supposed to have a new class starting in two weeks. In the meantime, grief counselors will be on hand starting this week for parents, students, staff and anyone needing some support.

"We're all kind of numb. It's absolutely tragic, horrible," said Lead Pastor Jeff Meyer.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said his team is struggling to understand what transpired in the Steele's home Friday.

"We struggle as an organization and as individuals to come to grips with what occurred, because there was no indication that there was trouble, that there was this kind of risk," Mahoney said Sunday in a press conference.

Andy never had any personnel issues or problems during his time as a Dane County deputy, and Mahoney called him an "exemplary employee" up until the day he left in June following his ALS diagnosis.

Hettenbach said Ashlee dedicated much of her time to the Tough as Steele campaign to raise money for Andy's care. The fundraising page has since been taken down, but had raised more than 20,000 dollars in a few weeks.

"It breaks my heart that this is how it ended, I want people to know she was the driving force behind all o the support they've gotten," she said.

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UPDATED: Sunday, August 24, 12:30 a.m.

From Fitchburg Police:

The Fitchburg Police Department has arrested the suspect responsible for a double homicide which occurred on August 22, 2014 at 3038 Yarmouth Greenway in the City of Fitchburg.

The suspect is identified as ANDREW P. STEELE, Male White, 39 year of age who resides at 3038 Yarmouth Greenway.

The homicide victims have been identified by the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office as the suspect’s wife, Ashlee C. Steele 39 years of age who resided at 3038 Yarmouth Greenway and Ashlee’s sister, Kacee M. Tollesbol 38 year of age, a resident of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

The investigation is ongoing. No additional information related to the investigation is available at this time.

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UPDATED Saturday, August 23, 2014 -- 10:31 p.m.

The Dane County Medical Examiner's has released the names of the two homicide victims.

The two victims, 38-year-old Kacee Tollesbol from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and 39-year-old Ashlee Steele from Fitchburg. Both autopsies of the women confirm that they were the victim of homicidal violence.

An active investigation is still ongoing.
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UPDATED Saturday, August 23, 2014 -- 7:09 p.m.

Fitchburg Police Lt. Todd Stetzer confirms a male suspect is in custody at a local hospital where he is being treated for injuries after a deadly shooting Friday afternoon.

In a press conference on scene Saturday, Stetzer was joined by Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff, who called it a "sad day in Fitchburg."

He shared his condolences and thoughts.

"On behalf of the City of Fitchburg, I cannot express deep sadness of what occurred yesterday...I feel for the families that are involved," he said.

Neighbors did not want to speak on camera, but many said they knew the family well.

They also say the shooting happened at the home of former Dane County Deputy Andy Steele, who was recently diagnosed with ALS and took part in the ice bucket challenge with NBC15 reporter Lindsey Branwall.

Officials will not confirm if Steele was involved in the shooting.

"Identities of the victims and of the suspect can not be released at this time, however the medical examiner will be the one who releases the names of the victims," Stezter said.

Neighbors also say the family had two children, but officials say they were not in danger.

Stetzer said that the victims and the suspect knew each other, but would not comment further on the exact relation.

Mayor Pfaff called the neighborhood "strong with close families", and said "there is going to have to be some healing going on up [there] and there is going to be residents that have to hug and talk."

Two people died in the shooting Friday afternoon in the 3000 block of Yarmouth Greenway Drive in Fitchburg.

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UPDATED Friday, August 22, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Two women are dead and one suspect is injured after a shooting on Yarmouth Greenway Drive in Fitchburg.

Neighbors tell us it is the house of former Dane County Sheriff's Deputy Andy Steele, who was recently diagnosed with ALS.

Last week NBC15 showed you a clip of Anchor John Stofflet pouring an ice bucket over Madison Police Chief Koval as support after Steele's diagnosis.

We can not confirm that Steele was involved in the shooting or at home at the time.

Fitchburg Police first responded to the scene shortly after 12 p.m. Friday.

"Upon arrival we found a female who was shot, and is now deceased... a second female was also located in the residence deceased," Lt. Todd Stetzter explained.

At the time it was unsure whether the suspect was outside or inside the house, so officers from Fitchburg Police, Madison Police as well as the Dane County Sheriff's Office geared up heavily.

K9's and tactical units surrounded the area to search for the suspect.

"[He] was subsequently located in the residence and is currently at the hospital being treated," Stetzer said.

The suspect's injuries are still unknown.

Neighbor Nathan Roth says what happened to today is simply unusual.

"I don't think this is normal, this doesn't happen that often so I kind of hope it's more of an isolated incident."

Roth has lived in the area for about 6 years.

"You know there are a mix of apartments and condos and some townhouses in this area..you know we walk through here with our kids and we bike ride and its usually a really quiet area," he said.

Today that quiet area was anything but that.

Lt. Stetzter also said that a responding deputy was sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

The victims and the suspect have not yet been identified.
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UPDATED Friday, August 22, 2014 -- 5:43 p.m.

FITCHBURG, Wis. -- Around 12:15 p.m., police swarmed to the neighborhood where the shooting took place.

Lt. Todd Stetzer says officers found one woman shot in the home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Another woman was also found in the home. She died at the scene. Both had been shot.

Deputy Police Chief Donald Bates says the suspect's injuries were not inflicted by police but didn't elaborate. The suspect's condition has not been released.

While police searched the neighborhood, Bates says officers found the suspect inside the home.

The victims have not yet been identified, and authorities aren't saying if they're related.

A neighbor has confirmed to us this is the home of Andy Steele, a retired Sheriff's Deputy who was recently diagnosed with ALS.

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UPDATED Friday, August 22, 2014 -- 4:19 p.m.

FITCHBURG, Wis. --- Fitchburg police says a shooting in a home ended with two women dead and the suspect taken to the hospital.

Police found one woman shot in the home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Another woman was also found in the home. She was pronounced dead at the scene. She had also been shot.

A man, believed to be the suspect in this shooting, was taken to a hospital. No information on his injuries were released.

This happened on Yarmouth Greenway Dr., right off McKee Rd.

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UPDATED Friday, August 22, 2014 --- 2:45 p.m.

FITCHBURG, Wis. -- Police in Fitchburg are looking for the shooter who left at least one person injured.

The shooting happened Friday afternoon on Yarmouth Greenway Dr., right off McKee Rd.

Police are asking people to avoid the area for now and asking people who live in the area, and that are at home, to remain inside their homes.

Fitchburg Police, Madison Police and Dane County Sheriff's Office are all at the scene.

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Friday August 22, 2014

FITCHBURG, Wis. --- Police in Fitchburg confirm they are investigating a shooting.

NBC 15 News has a crew at the scene where multiple law enforcement cars are gathered. This is on Yarmouth Greenway Dr.

Check back for updates on this breaking news story.