Judge Grants New Hearing for Kutska in Monfils Death (ABC2 WBAY.com: April 15, 2015)

By Sarah Thomsen Published: April 15, 2015, 11:43 am Updated: April 16, 2015, 6:36 am

A retired judge is granting a new hearing for one of the men sentenced to life in prison for the high-profile murder of Green Bay paperworker Tom Monfils.

Keith Kutska and 5 others were convicted and given life sentences for conspiring in Monfils’s death at the James River paper mill in 1992.

Co-defendant Mike Piaskowski’s conviction was later overturned. Kutska is hoping for the same outcome.

Now his attorneys say that’s one step closer to happening.

Action 2 News spoke with attorneys on both sides Wednesday morning, shortly after the judge made the decision to grant an evidentiary hearing. Neither side is surprised they’ll be back in court again.

The Minnesota Innocence Project took on Kutska’s case last year and asked for a new trial.

He’s not getting that right now, but this evidentiary hearing is a chance to argue a new theory for how Monfils died.

In the hundreds of pages of motions and affidavits filed by both Kutska’s lawyers and the Brown County District Attorney’s office in the last seven months, the big argument is suicide versus homicide.

There are statements from experts and even Monfils’s brother Cal believing Tom committed suicide, “had a strange fascination with death and drowning” and that testimony used to convince jurors of murder was “complete fiction.”

At trial, prosecutors argued the mill workers formed an angry mob, viciously beat Monfils for turning in a co-worker for stealing from the mill, then threw his body in a pulp vat with a rope and weight tied around his neck.

The D.A.’s office stands by that to this day, calling it a “sensational and unsupported theory of suicide.”

But by granting an evidentiary hearing, the judge who presided over the lengthy 1995 trial, James Bayorgeon, says there’s reason to argue the suicide theory in court and put witnesses on the stand.

Bayorgeon will again preside over the hearing in July, then decide if Kutska deserves a new trial.

That hearing is scheduled to begin July 8 at the Brown County Courthouse and is scheduled to last three days.

Just a week ago, when the parole commission denied Kutska’s first request for release, we learned that is a letter of support on file from the judge staying “I believe Mr. Kutska should be granted parole at the earliest possible date.”

None of the attorneys involved wanted to officially comment on the case Wednesday.

Posted on: February 15, 2017Jared Manninen