Sterling Rachwal will spend another year in a mental institution.
Rachwal, who was found not guilty by reason of mental defect in May 1997 after being charged with felony mistreatment of animals, appeared before Judge Keith Steckbauer Wednesday, April 23.
He was seeking early release from the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison. He is scheduled for mandatory release in 2015.
“This defendant is walking out the doors of that institution a year from now,” according to Assistant District Attorney James Fassbender, who said the state was not contending Rachwal’s conditional release. “Rather than just pushing him out the door, it would be better that he have some level of supervision.”
Rachwal’s attorney, Mark Hazelbaker, said an early release with conditions would give Rachwal a transitional period during which he could be closely supervised during his first year out of an institutionalized setting.
Hazelbaker argued that Rachwal, who was accused of sexually assaulting and killing horses, has made significant progress in controlling his urges.
He said Rachwal is currently living in an unlocked, minimum security facility.
“There have been no security concerns,” Hazelbaker said.
Steckbauer said that while he believes Rachwal has made some progress, “I do not believe Mr. Rachwal has made dramatic progress.”
“I’m being asked to say he’s made enough progress that he’s not at a substantial risk of harming animals,” Steckbauer said. “I don’t get the sense from reading the reports that he has accepted responsibility for what he has done.”
Steckbauer also noted that state law does not provide for the sort of transition that Hazelbaker was seeking.
“Everyone is well-intentioned in providing a transition for Mr. Rachwal,” Steckbauer said. “It’s just that I’m being asked to provide a solution that the statue doesn’t provide.”