Judge James Bayorgeon
Kutska granted hearing in Monfils’ murder
Keith Kutska will get another chance to argue for a new trial in connection with his conviction for the 1992 murder of Tom Monfils, a judge decided.
Kutska is one of six men who were convicted of killing Monfils at the then-James River paper mill. All but Mike Piaskowski, whose conviction was overturned by a federal judge, are serving life prison terms.
Last fall, Kutska’s lawyers filed a 145-page motion, arguing Monfils wasn’t murdered but actually killed himself. Prosecutors disagree and maintain the six killed him. His body was found at the bottom of a pulp vat, with a rope & weight tied to him.
Retired Outagamie County Judge James Bayorgeon, who is still handling the case, has granted a hearing, said attorney John Bradley.
The hearing is scheduled to last three days, starting July 8.
Kutska’s previous appeals were denied.
Just last week, the state Parole Commission denied Kutska’s first parole request. It said he needed to spend more time in prison. Judge Bayorgeon wrote a letter to the parole board, recommending Kutska be released as soon as possible.
To date, parole requests have been denied for the other four: Dale Basten, Michael Hirn, Michael Johnson and Rey Moore. They remain incarcerated.
Judge Grants New Hearing for Kutska in Monfils Death
Kutska denied 1st bid at parole in Monfils murder
Despite having a letter from the sentencing judge recommending “parole at the earliest possible date,” Keith Kutska will remain imprisoned for at least three more years for the murder of Green Bay mill worker Tom Monfils.
The parole commission this week denied Kutska’s request for parole and deferred further consideration for three years.
Monfils, 35, died in November 1992. His body was found in a paper pulp vat at was then was the James River Corp. paper mill. A weight had been tied around his neck.
Kutska, 64, has been in prison about 19 years and three months on a conviction of conspiracy to commit murder. Although other defendants in the case have had multiple parole hearings, this was Kutska’s first.
Reserve Judge James Bayorgeon, who presided over the six defendants’ joint trial in 1995, submitted a letter to the parole board staying, “I believe Mr. Kutska should be granted parole at the earliest possible date,” according to the parole board.
The parole commission said, however, it was denying parole based on Kutska’s unsatisfactory participation in prison programming, and that release would pose “an unreasonable risk to the public,” and that he had not served sufficient time for punishment.
“During your parole interview last month, you were asked multiple questions about your role in the crime and repeatedly responded that you were not going to answer the questions,” the parole board wrote, although it acknowledged that Kutska’s reluctance to talk could have been based on the fact that he has an appeal underway in the case.
The board also quoted Kutska as saying police framed him because he had hurt their pride, a comment Kutska has made previously to Press-Gazette Media.
Police and prosecutors claim that Kutska and others physically confronted Monfils at the mill because Monfils reported Kutska had stolen a few feet of electrical cord from the mill.
Kutska was suspended for five days for refusing to allow mill security to inspect his bag, and Kutska used the time to obtain a tape recording of Monfils’ call to police. When Kutska returned to work, he played the recording for co-workers.
Kutska has claimed he obtained the recording to take union action against his informant and played it for others and for Monfils to confirm it was him on the recording.
Police and prosecutors say Kutska incited his co-workers into beating Monfils, after which they threw his unconscious into a pulp vat, where his body was found the next day.
All six men were convicted after a lengthy trial in 1995, but one of the co-defendants, Michael Piaskowski, was freed after a short time in prison when a higher court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict him. The others convicted were Michael Hirn, Michael Johnson, Rey Moore and Dale Basten, all of whom have upcoming parole hearings.
The other defendants have claimed in unsuccessful appeals, in part, that if all six were acting in consort as police and prosecutors claim, Piaskowski’s overturned conviction should mean they all are innocent.
Kutska told the parole board that Monfils’ brother recently provided an affidavit that Tom Monfils had left a suicide note with his wife.