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Abbiehl pleas to amended charges in stabbing case

Travis Abbiehl, 37, Menomonie, pled to a number of counts during a hearing Dec. 19.

Abbiehl faces the charges after he was accused of stabbing a Chippewa County Sheriff’s deputy in August 2018, in the Town of Wheaton. The charges Abbiehl faces were amended during the hearing.

Wade Newell, state representative, said it was his understanding Abbiehl changed his plea to Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease or Defect (NGI) to the amended plea in October, but the electronic record did not reflect that. Defense attorney Michael Cohen confirmed that is the case and said they are prepared to resolve the matter.

Cohen said Abbiehl intends to waive his right to a jury trial. After Judge Steven Gibbs explained what a jury trial is, Abbiehl waived his right to a trial.

“Count No. 1 is amended from Attempted First Degree Intentional Homicide,” said Newell. “...the amended charge is First Degree Reckless Injury-Use of a Dangerous Weapon.”

Newell said one of the elements of the amended charge, is that great bodily harm was caused by Abbiehl. Newell said the actual harm caused was substantial bodily harm, but Abbiehl is allowed to plea to great bodily harm because it has lesser penalties than Count 1 in the original information.

Gibbs then described the elements of First Degree Reckless Injury. The elements are Abbiehl caused great bodily harm; the great bodily harm was caused by criminally reckless conduct; and the circumstances of the defendant’s conduct showed an utter disregard for human life.

“Finally, because a knife was used, there could be an enhanced penalty increased by not more than five years,” said Gibbs.

Abbiehl was also charged with Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety. Gibbs explained the elements of that charge, as well.

Based on the stipulation of the parties and the court’s review of submissions, Gibbs entered a finding of guilt to both counts in the amended information.

“It is my understanding that the parties stipulate that Mr. Abbiehl suffers from mental disease or defect that renders him incapable of conforming his behavior to the requirements of the law,” said Gibbs.

Newell said that is what the state stipulates. Gibbs’s finding agreed with the state’s stipulation.

Gibbs then revoked the bond and committed Abbiehl to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) for an undetermined period.

“Both parties will be free to argue the length of the commitment after the reports are prepared,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs also ordered a supplementary mental evaluation and ordered the DHS to prepare a pre-dispositional investigation, to determine whether institutional or conditional release is appropriate.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 27, at the Chippewa County Courthouse.