Man's 4th petition for release rejected

Published on: 6/21/2011

Alan Randall, who has spent the last 34 years committed to a state mental institution for killing two Summit police officers when he was a teenager, has been denied release for the fourth time by a Wisconsin Court of Appeals panel.

In a decision released Tuesday, the panel upheld Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lee S. Dreyfus' March 2009 ruling that Randall, now 53, was still dangerous, even though all three experts testified at trial that he posed no significant risk and was not mentally ill either when he committed the crimes or currently.

Randall, who lived in the Town of Summit at the time, was charged in 1976 with killing neighbor Ronald Hoeft and two police officers, Robert Atkins and Wayne Olson. He was also charged with seven counts of burglary and with stealing the neighbor's car and the squad car. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and in 1977 was convicted of two of the murders, four burglaries and one car theft.

During the second phase of the trial, both the defense and prosecution stipulated that, based on a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, Randall was not guilty by reason of mental disease. He was confined to Central State Hospital as a result.

Randall petitioned to be released, with conditions, in 1990, 1991, 1995 and again in 2008. In each case, either a jury or judge said he was still dangerous and refused to release him. The case has previously been appealed, including in 1995 when the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared Wisconsin's mental commitment law constitutional.

Randall was transferred to Winnebago Mental Health Institution in 1981, when the mental illness diagnosis was dropped, and where he had more off-grounds, unescorted privileges than any patient ever to reside at Winnebago. He earned 73 credits at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and worked full time at an art framing gallery.

He was transferred in 2006 to a group-home type facility at Mendota Mental Health Institution in Madison and works several jobs, his attorney said Tuesday.

Dreyfus concluded at trial, however, that he was secretive and devious because he had broken institution rules and lied about it.

Dreyfus also relied on the brutal nature of Randall's murders in concluding he was a dangerous individual.

In arguing for Randall's release most recently, lawyer Craig S. Powell argued that Dreyfus disregarded evidence that Randall was not dangerous and the decision elevated fear and anger over the law.

The appeals court panel, sitting in Milwaukee, disagreed.