Slashing suspect pleads not guilty

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Friday, September 16, 2011
— A Baraboo man told police he heard voices warning that his family was in danger and that he should kill them in order to save them.

Nathan L. Kropp, 30, is accused of slitting his throat, his girlfriend's throat and their 4-year-old daughter's throat Aug. 7 in Janesville.

He appeared Thursday in Rock County Court via video from Winnebago Mental Health Institute, where he is being held on a mental health commitment.

Police took Kropp into protective custody after finding his girlfriend holding the child and sitting on the terrace across from 162 Cherry St. A friend had responded to the woman's screams and called police when she found Kropp draped over the woman and child on a bed.

None of the cuts was life-threatening, although Kropp and the child needed surgery, according to court documents.

Kropp on Thursday pled not guilty by reason of mental disease to two counts of first-degree reckless injury. Judge James Daley set a $10,000 cash bond.

Madison psychologist Kent Berney will examine Kropp before a Sept. 29 hearing. If Kropp is found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, he would remain in custody on a civil commitment and get treatment for as long as necessary for his safety and the public's safety, said Eugene Dumas, an attorney with the Rock County Corporation Counsel.

After six months, Kropp could petition for release.

If Kropp is not found to be mentally ill, the case would become criminal, Dumas said. Kropp would face 50 years in prison and $200,000 in fines.

According to court documents, Kropp and his girlfriend had been together for five years. He never showed signs of mental illness until recent months, when she noticed occasional paranoia.

Kropp and his girlfriend decided to move to Chicago. While driving from Baraboo, Kropp became paranoid and thought someone was following him. They decided to stay with a friend in Janesville, according to the criminal complaint.

Kropp started hearing voices telling him he should kill himself and his family before someone tortured them. He thought the voices were the evil thoughts of people in the neighborhood, according to court documents.

On Aug. 7, Kropp started hearing voices around 2 p.m. At 11 p.m., he and his girlfriend settled down to sleep. She dozed off and woke to find Kropp in the bedroom holding a knife, according to the complaint.

She heard him say something to the effect of, "I can't kill myself. I can't kill my family. That's not the right thing to do. Stop telling me to do this," according to the complaint.

Kropp's girlfriend and her friend calmed him.

When the girlfriend woke again, Kropp was coming toward her in the dark. She thought he was going to hug her, but he slashed at her neck. She wrestled with him and was able to keep the knife away after the first cut, but he was able to reach over and slash at the child.

She screamed for her friend. When the lights came on, the girlfriend saw a large amount of blood and realized he had cut himself first.

Kropp told police he had been under a lot of stress and hadn't eaten for two weeks. He hadn't slept for four days and drank a bottle of alcohol the night of the attack, according to court documents.

Kropp told police he thought his family would be going to a better place.

Last updated: 6:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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