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Police attacker to wait in jail until hospital can take him

Brad Williams

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A Sparta man who has been in and out of mental hospitals after stabbing and wounding a La Crosse policeman will spend some time in the county jail, temporarily. 

Smith

The latest public release for 37-year-old Joseph Smith was recently revoked, but his attorney objects to having Smith kept in the jail, because he might not get the mental health services he needs.

Prosecutor Jessica Skemp, however, said Smith is going back to a state hospital, eventually. They just have to wait for a bed to open up there.    

In March of 2006, Smith attacked La Crosse Officer Jon Wenger with a screwdriver during a traffic stop on Rose Street, and was shot by another officer. 

Wenger was wearing a protective vest.  Smith was found to be hallucinating at the time.   He was found not guilty of attempted murder, by reason of insanity.

Every six months, Smith is allowed to ask for a release from state custody, and Judge Gloria Doyle says Smith should think about whether being released is the best thing for him.  

Smith made his latest release request in December.

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.

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