State asks judge to revoke conditional release

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Mike DuPre'
Friday, November 23, 2007
— What now for Mark Staskal?

The state Department of Health and Family Services—the agency charged with finding a suitable group home for Staskal—has asked the judge who ordered Staskal’s conditional release to revoke that decision.

Judge Michael Byron on Wednesday scheduled another hearing on the case for Dec. 4, when he probably will set a date for a hearing on the state’s petition. He must rule on the state’s petition by Dec. 16 unless Staskal and the Rock County District Attorney’s Office waive a 30-day time limit.

Staskal, 44, stabbed his sister, Marcy, to death in 1984 but was found not guilty by reason of mental disease.

Formerly a Milton resident, he had been living in Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison but was moved to a group home in Eau Claire on Nov. 5.

He was sent back to Mendota on Nov. 15.

Those in Rock County who are connected to the case—the judge, lawyers and Staskal’s parents, Melly and Redgie Staskal—are not sure why he was sent back. Or if they do know, they aren’t saying.

But the Department of Health and Family Service’s terse request to revoke Staskal’s conditional release says Staskal was taken back to Mendota “following clinical concerns and to ensure the safety of Mr. Staskal and others.”

“Therefore, the department … petitions the court for revocation of the conditional release.”

After the hearing Wednesday, Melly Staskal said: “We’ve been told, through the media, that Mark was unable to adjust.

“I don’t know, but my guess is it wasn’t a strong acting out because Mark was released to minimum security (at Mendota). I believe if it was a strong acting out, he would be in higher security.”

Staskals’ parents oppose his conditional release because they fear he will kill again.

“I think he’s right now where he should be (Mendota),” Melly said. “It’s important that his needs will be met, and that’s where they can be met. It’s too bad Mark can’t come to that same conclusion.”

Redgie said: “My guess is Mark went in there and tried to conform to the rules, but the real problem was he was used to Mendota—he’s been there 23 years—and he wasn’t used to the outside. It was too big a step for him.”

Staskal’s placement at The Bernice & Genevieve Foundation, 3806 Woodcrest Court, Eau Claire, triggered a storm of criticism and concern in that community.

“I don’t think he got violent. I’m sure of that,” Redgie said. “But I think the group home got a lot of pressure from the outside, and they put a lot of pressure on Mark to do things perfectly, and he wasn’t ready for that.

“He gets some leeway at Mendota. He cannot handle the least bit of criticism, but when he gets it, he doesn’t show it hurts him. He stuffs it inside,” Redgie said.

In January, Byron ruled that the Department of Health and Family Services must develop a treatment plan for Staskal, the first step toward his conditional release.

Byron reversed years of decisions to keep Staskal in Mendota.

Sixteen group homes rejected Staskal’s placement before The Bernice & Genevieve Foundation agreed to take him.

The home opened in March, and neighbors were then concerned about who would live there. Some of them asked the Department of Health and Family Services what kind of people would live there.

Sandra Finseth, a department employee, replied in an e-mail in March that because the home’s residents would be vulnerable, mentally ill adults, the home had a responsibility that no resident would pose a danger to others.

The group home will not admit corrections clients, sex offenders or anyone who has a history of violence toward others, Finseth said in the e-mail. Staskal is both a corrections client and has a history of violence.

Assistant district attorney Ray Jablonksi entered the e-mail Wednesday as an exhibit in the case.

Staskal’s attorney, Phillip Brehm of Janesville, said of the e-mail:

“That’s one person’s opinion on the CBRF (community-based residential facility), but I haven’t looked at the reasons why that person reached that conclusion.”

Last updated: 10:05 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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