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Sparta man who attacked La Crosse officer could be released in early July



A Sparta man convicted of attacking a La Crosse policeman with a screwdriver could be released from state custody next month. 


Joseph Smith has been cleared for conditional release, pending a court hearing in La Crosse on July 1.

Smith was ordered to spend 46 years in a state hospital after the stabbing attempt against La Crosse Officer Jon Wenger in March of 2006. He was released briefly in 2010 before being committed again. 

Tuesday, Judge Gloria Doyle approved the conditional release of the 38-year-old, after being told that the district attorney’s office is not opposed to a plan where Smith would receive outpatient treatment. 

Smith is now being held in the La Crosse County jail because of a shortage of space at Mendota.     

He was found to be hallucinating when he stabbed Wenger during a Rose Street traffic stop.  Wenger was protected by a bullet proof vest during the attack, and another officer at the scene shot and wounded Smith, who was later charged with attempted murder.

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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