A judge has ordered a new trial for a Tomah man convicted in a 2007 double homicide.
John G. Tetting Jr. claims new evidence shows he played no criminal role in the execution-style slayings of Joshua Alderman of La Crosse and Tabatha Nealy of Wisconsin Rapids, whose bodies were found in a remote area in the Juneau County town of Finley.
Tetting had pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree reckless homicide. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
His co-defendant, David Turner, 38, also of Tomah, was sentenced to 40 years.
Tetting says he didn’t understand that his plea left him culpable for the deaths even though he did not pull the trigger.
Prosecutors say Turner shot the victims; Tetting was the driver.
On Tuesday, Juneau County Circuit Judge John Roemer ordered a new trial for Tetting, saying it was one of the most difficult cases he ever heard.
“I’m very happy for John,” Tetting’s new attorney Cole Ruby said after Roemer’s ruling. “I think eventually the truth is going to set him free.”
Turner was the mastermind of a drug ring that included Tetting and the victims, prosecutors have said. He killed them in an argument over money.
Tetting said from the outset that he had no knowledge of Turner’s intention to kill Alderman and Nealy, and Turner corroborated that claim when he said that he had not intended to kill the pair when he arrived for the meeting.
Turner has said Tetting was blameless.
But Tetting and his attorney did not have access to those statements at sentencing because files of codefendants are confidential.
Family members from both sides were also in court Tuesday.
“The judge did the right thing from what he heard,” said Gayle Pavlik, an aunt of Nealy’s who lives near Racine. “I’m not happy with it, but I totally understand where he got his decision from.”
But Pavlik said family members are not looking forward to a new trial.
“It’s been a long time,” Pavlik said. “The family is healing, and now we’re going to be going though it all again.”
Noel Kaye of La Crosse, Tetting’s brother, expressed condolences to the families of the victims.
“I guess I just want to see justice served, period,” Kaye said. “Of course I love my brother to death and would love to see him free, but I just want to see justice served.”
An unsigned news release issued by the Juneau County District Attorney’s Office after Roemer’s decision promised a second prosecution.
“It (the DA’s office) remains confident in the integrity of the charges and the investigation conducted by the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office, and is immediately preparing to seek justice in the trial of this very important matter,” the statement said.
Tetting, who is incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, was present for Roemer’s ruling but did not speak or visibly react to the judge’s decision.
Assistant District Attorney Jake Westman asked Roemer to reinstate the $1 million cash bond imposed on Tetting after his arrest. Ruby asked for Tetting’s release pending a new trial.
Roemer imposed a $150,000 cash bond, ordered him moved to the Juneau County jail and scheduled a status hearing April 4.