Walk for Truth and Justice
Rally held for men convicted in 1992 Monfils murder
Supporters of the men convicted in the 1992 murder of Thomas Monfils rallied at the Brown County Courthouse Saturday, buoyed by the hope that they can soon ask a judge to reconsider the case.
“The legal team has been working with witnesses and experts to prepare a motion showing why the men were wrongfully convicted,” said Denis Gullickson, who has written a book claiming that the six were wrongly convicted. “We expect that a motion will be filed with the court in the very near future and the reasons why the convictions were wrongful will then become clear.”
The six were convicted in 1995 in the killing of Monfils, who was a 35-year-old worker at what was then the James River Corp. paper mill when he was slain. Dale Basten, Michael Hirn, Michael Johnson, Keith Kutska and Rey Moore are serving time in state prison; Michael Piaskowski was freed in 2001 after his conviction was overturned when an appeals court found that there had been insufficient evidence to convict him.
Gullickson told about 40 people gathered outside the courthouse in twilight Saturday that a Minneapolis attorney and the Minnesota and Wisconsin Innocence projects are preparing a court filing on behalf of the men who remain in prison.
Supporters carried signs bearing slogans like “Walk for Truth, Walk for Justice,” and “Stand Witness to Innocence.” After listening to Gullickson and justice advocates Joan Treppa and Trudy Baltazar, they marched to Green Bay Police Department headquarters and back, chanting the name of each man followed by “not guilty!”
Police and prosecutors, however, have not wavered in their belief that the convicted men were involved in Monfils’ murder. Retired Detective Randy Winkler, who led the Green Bay Police Department’s investigation into the case, recently characterized Gullickson’s book and its claims that the men are innocent as “toilet paper.”
Monfils’ body was found in a pulp vat at the paper mill where he had worked for 10 years, a 45-pound weight around his neck. He died of suffocation and strangulation.
Prosecutors say the six men had confronted Monfils after Monfils told police that Kutska planned to steal electrical cable from the mill, and that one of the men struck Monfils in the head with a wrench or other blunt object. Jurors convicted the men in October 1995 after a six-week trial.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider.
A letter written by Joan Treppa to news reporters prior to the Innocence March in Green Bay, WI on 10/28/13.
The Inspiration Continues
Many who read this may wonder why I have not let this Monfils issue rest. Everyone has their opinion about whether the six men are guilty or not and so do I. I’m just more vocal about it. The thing is, after years of unrelenting determination and persistence in search of the truth, I still have not seen or heard anything to prove that they murdered anyone. Not one person has ever given me a credible argument as to why they believe in the guilt of these men so I continue my pursuit of justice on their behalf. I have never been alone in that pursuit and the list of believers keeps growing. The Wisconsin Innocence Project now has help from the Minnesota Innocence Project as well as a very large and respectable law firm here in Minneapolis. Significant time has been spent pouring over and discussing the so called evidence and it just isn’t there!
The continued courage and endurance I witness among the family members fuels my drive to see justice served also. These people represent the collateral damage that no one talks about. They signify the rest of the tragedy that no one ever acknowledges and even though their lives have been ruined, few seem to care. Somehow they still find the strength to hold their heads up and take pride in the fact that none of these men has ever caved under pressure by admitting to something they did not do. I wonder how many of us could endure that kind of pressure.
I have earned the trust of these family members and I will again walk proudly with them in the name of truth and justice on Monday, October 28th at 5:30 pm at the Brown County Courthouse, because to me, that is what this is all about; to verify the absolute truth about what actually happened and to encourage justice for all involved, whether it be for the first victim in this tragedy or for all of the other “collateral damage” that has followed.