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Judge says no to parole for man who killed wife

ELLSWORTH -- A state commissioner was justified in denying parole to a man who shot his wife to death 22 years ago, ruled Pierce County Judge Robert Wing last week.

In May 1987, Wing sentenced Richard John Kusch, now 65, to life in prison. A jury had found Kusch guilty of first-degree murder for shooting his wife in front of their son and an employee of Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse.

In a single-page ruling filed Feb. 24, Wing affirmed the state commission decision that delayed any further parole consideration for 18 months.

Last June Kusch, a prisoner at Racine Correctional Institution, Sturtevant, filed a civil complaint, claiming his conduct during two decades as an inmate has been exemplary and that parole would be appropriate.

In his ruling, Wing says Parole Commissioner Steven Landreman's decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious.

"Kusch planned and committed the murder, the murder was committed in the presence of a social worker and one of Kusch's children, and he shot his wife multiple times," summarized Wing.

Based on those facts, wrote the judge, the commissioner was justified in finding that Kusch hasn't served enough prison time.

Kusch claimed Landreman's decision was "nebulous" because it says "more time is warranted" and suggests "eventual transition through reduced security" but doesn't give guidance or explain what those phrases mean.

Kusch was convicted of killing his wife Patricia, 44, in the kitchen of their Prescott home on Feb. 11, 1987. The shooting occurred after the two had attended a divorce hearing in River Falls.

According to the original criminal complaint, Kusch confronted his wife, accused her of ruining his life and "shot five rounds into her."

He pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, but the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.

Kusch, who had worked for an airline, claimed he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting, that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he was being treated with Dalmane, a type of sleeping medication.