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Accused Hudson vandals appear in EC court

Four of the suspects in the vandalism at two Eau Claire high schools June 3-4 were scheduled to appear in court there this week.

Making initial appearances in Eau Claire County court on Tuesday to hear the charges against them were Benjamin N. Leuhrs, 18, 718 Crosby Drive; Michael C. Van Ness, 20, 1733 Laurel Ave.; and Michael J. Zuehl, 18, 518 19th St. N.

Samuel T. Wegleitner, 18, 1188 Sundance Pass, was scheduled to appear in court today.

All four men face two counts each of misdemeanor criminal damage to property. Each charge has a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. The combined damages at the Eau Claire schools were estimated at about $1,700, mostly from spray paint.

The four in court this week, along with nine others, face possible felony charges for the more extensive damage at the high schools in New Richmond and Hudson the same night, according to Eau Claire District Attorney Rich White, who will act as prosecutor in both counties. D.A. Eric Johnson asked White to handle the charges in St. Croix County, citing a family relationship with some of those involved in the case. The suspects' appearances in St. Croix County Court have been set for Aug. 1.

The men also participated along with others in vandalism at Menomonie High School but the damage was minor compared to that at the other schools, according to Dunn County D.A. James Peterson. Peterson said his office is still considering whether to charge suspects there with misdemeanors or city ordinance violations.

According to police reports, there were nine other '07 Hudson High School graduates, five girls and four boys, who accompanied Luehrs, Van Ness, Zuehl and Wegleitner to the Eau Claire and Menomonie campuses and were involved in some of the damages done there. No information was available at press time as to what, if any, charges those individuals will face.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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