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Man convicted in La Crosse County drug death won’t be required to finish community service

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A Madison man who was convicted of reckless homicide in a La Crosse area drug death will get a break on the conditions of his probation. 

Malachi Hankel will no longer be required to perform hundreds of hours a year of community service. 

Hankel was sentenced to 8 years of probation in 2014, for providing heroin to Thomas Tremain, a Barre Mills man who died from an overdose hours later. 

During his probation, Hankel has lived in a group home and a mental health facility, and argues that he is not in a position to complete the 1000 hour service requirement.

Judge Todd Bjerke says Hankel should find ‘pro-social’ activities which will benefit him, to fulfill his sentence.

Tremain got away from a Madison hospital where he had been taken for alcohol treatment, and persuaded Hankel to drive him from Madison back home to Barre Mills. 

Hankel admitted to using the heroin with Tremain, and to leaving him alone to sleep so he could return to Madison.

Tremain was found dead in his home a short time after Hankel departed.

Hankel had left his phone number on a note to Tremain, assuming that Tremain would wake up.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.