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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Kaempf Pleads No Contest To First Degree Homicide

To the surprise of many in the courtroom Monday, Nov. 4, Brent L. Kaempf, 49, formerly of Peshtigo and now of Marinette County Jail, entered a “no contest” plea to a charge of first degree intentional homicide in the April 28 stabbing death of his girl friend, Patricia “Trish” Waschbisch. Judge David Miron set sentencing for 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10.

Minimum sentence is possibility of parole after 20 years, but Miron said there are two other options, one of which is possibility of parole after a term of something more than 20 years, and the third is life without parole.

Waschbisch was well known in the area for her work as an advocate for adult domestic abuse victims and as interim director of Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services in Marinette where she had been employed since 2001. Several of her former co-workers in the courtroom on Monday were pleased with the no contest plea.

Kaempf, looking younger than his 49 years, appeared in his orange jail garb. He has been held in Marinette County jail in lieu of $1 million bail since his arrest shortly after Waschbisch was stabbed to death at her home in Peshtigo. Before Monday’s proceedings ended even the possibility of bail was revoked and he was returned to jail to await sentencing.

Assistant District Attorney Kent Hoffmann said it is good that the Waschbisch family will be spared the stress of a trial and the painful memories it would stir up.

Monday’s proceedings had been scheduled as a status conference and motions hearing, with several issues to be settled including sale of a home Kaempf owns at W3555 Aubin Street, Peshtigo to pay attorney fees and restitution. There had been a possibility that Defense Attorney Jay Jazgar would request a change of venue, but the deadline for that was prior to start of the Nov. 4 proceedings.

Shortly after Jazgar and Kaempf entered the courtroom, Jazgar announced his client would accept an offer from the state to drop a “weapons enhancer” charge in return for a plea of no contest on the first degree murder count. Jazgar asked for a pre-sentence investigation. He said his client understands there is a mandatory 20-year prison term before parole can be considered, and acknowledged that at sentencing the state and defense would argue the eligibility for parole. The weapons enhancer charge would have added five years in prison to whatever other sentence was imposed.

Hoffman said as restitution the state would ask that the Waschbisch family at least be reimbursed for funeral and burial expenses.

Miron asked Kaempf if he understood that a “no contest” plea carries the same force as a finding of “guilty“ and in effect means he does not contest the state’s ability to prove the charge. Kaempf answered both questions in the affirmative.

“Yes, we’ve had weekly discussions over this for the past several months,” Jazgar said when Miron asked if his client fully understood the possibilities.

Miron noted the court may order full or partial restitution for the Waschbisch family, and he had no numbers at this time. He also reminded Jazgar and Kaempf that the court is not bound by the terms of any plea agreement, and could impose the maximum penalty, which would be life without parole.

As an aside, he noted first degree homicide is the only charge for which the term “parole” continues to be used, rather than “extended supervision.”

Miron again asked if Kaempf understood that by pleading no contest he was in effect agreeing that the state could prove all aspects of the offense beyond a doubt, mainly the two elements that, first he caused the death, and second, he acted with intent to kill Trish Waschbisch. He pointed out “intent” could have been formed far before the act, or almost as it began to happen.

“I’ve had that discussion with my client,” Jazgar said. “Intent can be limited to a very, very small period of time.”

Miron said jury instructions on “intent” are that the act need not be considered for a week, a day or a month, “it can be formulated at the instant of the attack as long as it exists at the time of the act.”

He proceeded to ask Kaempf the mandatory questions before accepting the plea, including whether or not Kaempf was satisfied with representation by his attorney, and Kaempf answered “yes” in each case.

Miron then declared the state finds Kaempf guilty of First Degree Intentional Homicide and dismissed the Use of Dangerous Weapon complaint. He then revoked bail and remanded Kaempf to the custody of the Sheriff, who was present in the courtroom. District Attorney Allen Brey was also on hand.

Miron said the appraisal of Kaempf’s house was received on Friday, Oct. 25, and sale was awaiting a court decision. Appraisal set the estimated fair market value at $65,000. A $44,600 mortgage will need to be paid off.

Tony Staudenmaier, step father of Kaempf, who was present in the courtroom, wanted to buy the house and had fronted the cost of the appraisal, Jazgar said. His client wanted it sold as quickly as possible. Staudenmaier said he had offered $60,000.

Miron noted a broker would probably charge 6 percent, which would subtract $3,900 from the sale price, and after paying the $350 appraisal fee proceeds would be $61,450. Hoffmann had no objections to the sale at $60,000 and Miron ruled that since he was getting a “deal,” Staudenmaier would pay recording fees and closing costs.

Miron ruled that anything beyond the standard court costs and paying off the first mortgage will go to the Clerk of Courts office to be used for restitution and paying off Kaempf’s attorney fees.

Waschbisch and Kaempf had for some years shared a home at 526 Thompson Street, Peshtigo. She was found dead in the bathroom of that home on the afternoon of April 28 by her teenage daughter, Alexis Waschbisch. The criminal complaint against Kaempf states death was caused by multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Kaempf was apprehended by Wauwatosa police about 3:30 a.m. Monday, April 29, and held there until the following afternoon on the basis of an all points bulletin issued by Peshtigo Police. Agents from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations were involved.


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