Man to stand trial in wife’s slaying — (The Milwaukee Journal)

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The Milwaukee Journal

January 26, 1994

Author: BOB HELBIG of The Journal staff

Waukesha –  Although he was found competent to stand trial, a Menomonee Falls man charged with strangling his wife last October might have enough evidence to claim he was insane at the time.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Kathryn W. Foster ruled Tuesday that Rick L. Spaude, 42, was competent to proceed in his first-degree intentional homicide case.

After making the announcement, Foster remarked: “I’m in no way announcing a clean bill of health.”

Spaude has confessed to the killing. One factor that could aid in his defense is that he was taking the anti-depressant drug Prozac before the death of his wife, Beth Ann Spaude. The 42- year-old woman was preparing to divorce her husband of 23 years when she was killed in their Menomonee Falls home.

At Spaude’s competency hearings Monday and Tuesday, doctors testified that Spaude’s family was concerned about his mental state before his wife’s death.

Spaude’s attorneys, Stephen M. Glynn and James M. Shellow, have not indicated how their case will proceed or whether they will use an insanity defense. A diagnosis of severe depression marked by periods of psychosis, announced this week by two defense experts, could make such a defense likely.

A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 17.

Judge Sides With Prosecution

Foster’s ruling came despite testimony from psychiatrist Herzl R. Spiro and psychologist John V. Liccione, who said Spaude suffered from depression so severe that it caused him to hallucinate and feel paranoid. Such actions would make it impossible for Spaude to properly defend himself, both agreed.

But Foster sided with the prosecution’s only witness, Madison psychiatrist Gary Maier, in determining that Spaude was competent to proceed. She noted that Maier spent considerably more time with Spaude than the other experts, and deemed Maier more knowledgeable than the others in the specialty of forensics.

Spiro and Liccione testified that Spaude suffered from post- traumatic stress and was too preoccupied with planning his own death to assist his attorneys. By contrast, Maier said Spaude was going through a bout of depression considered normal for someone accused of killing his wife.

Foster said Spaude’s condition would have to be helped by medication and the care of his attorneys. Because he still is considered a suicide risk, he will remain at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison.

“I am, after hearing all the testimony, concerned about the defendant’s well-being.”

Record Number:  MLWK179481