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Man convicted in 2019 fatal shooting at cemetery requests new attorney stalling sentencing hearing

Henry West requested to withdraw from his attorneys in court Friday
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:34 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The 67-year-old man convicted of shooting three people at a Wausau cemetery in 2019, killing one, has requested a new attorney. Henry West was scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. The motion postponed the sentencing hearing. A new date will not yet be set until a new attorney is appointed.

In court, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Greg Huber called the move ‘highly unusual.’

“Mr. West, is it your desire that these two attorneys withdraw from your case today?” Judge Huber said.

To which West said, “Yes, sir”.

The judge granted West’s request saying any other motions West may want to make must come from his new attorney. The court will now work with the public defender’s office to get him a new lawyer or the judge can appoint one for him. They’ll check back in a week because they can’t reschedule the sentencing hearing until he has a lawyer. Judge Huber’s office said he wants to have this case closed before he retires from his seat at the end of July. If that does not happen, the newly-elected Branch 2 judge, Rick Cveykus, would take the case unless he has a conflict of interest. Cveykus was in attendance for the hearing.

In February, West pleaded no contest to five of his 17 charges. As a result, he was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of arson. As a result, 12 other charges were dismissed but will be considered during his sentencing hearing.

As the victims’ families waited for an hour for the hearing to begin, the district attorney, Theresa Wetzsteon explained to them that West claimed he had not wanted to take the plea agreement in February. She said she was also told he was not doing mentally well ahead of the hearing. His attorneys told NewsChannel 7 they could not comment on either of those claims. Attorney Timothy Hogan, however, did say that everyone involved was upset that the case could not conclude Thursday, that they all were looking out for everyone’s rights in this case and this was the best course for all involved.

Individuals from two of the families prepared victim impact statements to be considered in the sentencing; those will have to wait. As DA Wetzsteon explained to families the reason for the delay, families expressed frustration. One asked at what point would West have less control of this “charade,” adding that every time there is a delay in the case, it revictimizes them. About a third of the roughly two-dozen people in the courtroom left ahead of West’s appearance.

West was arrested after three people were shot at Pine Grove Cemetery in Wausau on Oct. 3, 2019. Patricia Grimm, 52, of Wausau died from her injuries. She was an employee of Pine Grove Cemetery. A then-60-year-old man and then 70-year-old woman was also injured.

Investigators said he was in the midst of eviction from his apartment on Fullmer Street in Schofield and was still upset about being fired from the cemetery several years prior.

West lived at 117 Fullmer Street in Schofield, where he was convicted of setting fire to a garage on the same day of the shootings. He also tampered with the gas line and laid enough makeshift explosives that police estimated hundreds could have been killed in a resulting explosion.

Court documents state a maintenance man for the apartment complex said West had made comments about not liking the management at Fullmer Street apartments, and had also made comments about being very upset and making threats against cemetery management after his firing from Pine Grove Cemetery. The apartment complex manager said that once the eviction process was finalized, West had said he would “make the news big time”.

In Wisconsin, a conviction for first-degree intentional homicide carries a mandatory life sentence. Only his parole eligibility will be discussed.

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