A Lake Geneva woman felt pressured to plead guilty in February to manufacturing the methamphetamine that caused an explosion in a hotel, her lawyer said in Walworth County Court on Thursday.
Melissa E. Kuen, 37, was scheduled to be sentenced at a Thursday hearing, but at the 11th hour, her lawyer, Steve Compton, asked the judge to give him more time to review the situation.
“I really am troubled by what I’ve heard from my client,” Compton said.
Judge Daniel Johnson said postponing the sentencing again—it has happened twice in this case so far—was “incredibly frustrating.”
“We’re pretty late in the game here,” Johnson said.
Still, Johnson gave Compton time to request a hearing transcript and potentially file a motion to withdraw Kuen’s guilty plea.
Compton said over the last several days, “issues have arisen as to whether or not I believe that this plea was knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently made.”
“I don’t make those statements lightly,” he added.
Kuen pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to one charge of manufacturing meth. Other drug and bail jumping charges were dismissed and read into the record.
As part of the agreement, Kuen also agreed to pay her share of the more than $125,000 owed after the Jan. 9, 2017, explosion at The Cove of Lake Geneva Hotel.
Police and prosecutors have reported Kuen sustained severe burns in the explosion. She was later taken to a Milwaukee hospital.
Another man, Patrick M. McBean of Lake Geneva, has been sentenced to two years in prison for The Cove incident and other drug-related matters.
Compton is new to Kuen’s case. He took over May 11 after her plea.
Compton said he explained to Kuen the consequences of withdrawing her plea.
“I think I used the phrase, ‘Be careful what you wish for ...’” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Haley Johnson said a successful withdrawal means the prosecution will take all deals off the table.
“I do agree with attorney Compton,” Haley Johnson said. “The consequences for the defendant to withdraw her plea may not be what she’s looking for.”
Ultimately, Judge Daniel Johnson said, an appeals court issue down the road would be more detrimental to the victims than continuing the hearing.
Kuen’s next hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 12.