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District Attorney fails to charge Janesville Wisconsin man for murder and the public demands an explanation. Channel 3000 asks Legal Analyst Attorney Chris Van Wagner to provide the public with an explanation and perspective of a homicide case. The Wisconsin man was in jail, accused of drunk driving.
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Perspective on Homicide Cases

Charges Not Yet Filed Against James Koepp

Channel 3000, Madison Wisconsin
Interview With Attorney Chris Van Wagner, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Christopher Van WagnerFormer Federal Prosecutor Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner provides insight into why charges have not yet been filed by the District Attorney against James Koepp.

Joel De Spain interviewed Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Van Wagner regarding the failure of the district attorney for Rock County, Wisconsin to press charges against Joel Koepp, the suspect in the Janesville Wisconsin murders of . Attorney Chris Van Wagner provided insight as to why those charges have not yet been filed.

The DA's announcement to withhold charges came as a surprise to many, but not to everyone, and certainly not to Madison criminal defense attorney Chris Van Wagner. Chris is also a former federal prosecutor. Attorney Van Wagner provided some perspective on what might be going on behind the scenes in this case. [Video]

Perspective on the Process of a Homicide Case

Joel DeSpain Reports

News 3 sits down with Madison defense attorney Chris Van Wagner, a former federal persecutor, to provide perspective on what may be going on behind the scenes in the Rock County triple homicide case.

Joel DeSpain asks Attorney Chris Van Wagner:

Chris, here we have, in the eleventh hour, the DA standing up and saying, "Look, I know everybody is anticipating that I am going to file homicide charges. Well, I'm not gonna do it. I have insufficient evidence."

Chris, what's going on here?

Chris Van Wagner says:

The first thing that is going on here is that the DA is saying, "Look, I'm not ready, and I'm not going to be rushed into this." Who is he saying it to? He's not talking to people in the trailer park who are worried about their safety. He's not really talking to the sheriff. He is talking to the courts; essentially, he is saying to the courts, "I'm not filing a complaint until I have sufficient evidence."

But two other things are going on behind the scenes. The sheriff and the DA apparently don't see eye-to-eye on this case. That happens. The sheriff's job is to make the people think that they got the guy and they are safe, and maybe they do. The DA's job is to not bring the case until he knows he can prove it.

Joe DeSpain asks Attorney Chris Van Wagner:

So, you think the DA really did the right thing today?

Chris Van Wagner says:

Yes, I think he did. I looked at the evidence that the sheriff had pointed to as probable cause, and it is the kind of probable cause that is what I would call "possible cause". Would he get a bind-over? Maybe. Would he be able to go to trial, if the defendant demanded a speedy trial within 60 days. That's Mr. O'Leary's (Rock County District Attorney Dennis O'Leary) decision, and that's why he declines.

There seems to be an under current here. I would be willing to bet that the new Rock County sheriff is not real happy with the DA today.

Joe DeSpain asks Attorney Chris Van Wagner:

Can you imagine what that conversation was like today between ?

Chris Van Wagner says:

I think that phone conversation occurred on the red phone. It might not have been red when they got on it, but it was red when they got off of it. On the other hand, this is a tense situation. You have people in the community who are concerned about their safety and you have a triple murder. When was the last time a triple murder occurred in Rock County?

Joe DeSpain says to Attorney Chris Van Wagner:

Thank you, Chris, for explaining this to us.

Chris Van Wagner says:

You are welcome, Joel. I'm glad that I could help.

About Attorney Chris Van Wagner

Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner (Chris) is a partner at the law firm of Van Wagner & Wood (Madison, Wisconsin). In practice since 1981, Chris devotes his professional time and energies to helping people accused of crimes or drunk driving. Prior to resettling in Wisconsin, Chris Van Wagner defended people in the criminal courts in Chicago, Illinois. Previously, Chris served as a federal prosecutor (Madison) and state attorney (Trenton, New Jersey district attorney's office).

Attorney Van Wagner's peers have repeatedly voted him one of Madison Best Criminal Defense Lawyers (Madison Magazine Best Lawyers). And in a recent study conducted of all criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin, Attorney Chris Van Wagner was distinguished as Super Criminal Defense Lawyer of Wisconsin for 2006 among very few others for ranking in the top five percent across all categories of that study.

Chris Van Wagner's recent record of acquittals is preceded by a history of successful defenses for which the Dane County defense bar has honored Chris for many accomplishments during his legal career, including a special honor as "Warrior of the Year" for an acquittal on behalf of a particularly difficult client in an attempted murder case. The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) has three times awarded Chris the Martin Hanson Advocate's Prize - a statewide honor - for his repeated trial victories in homicide cases.

C3K Perspective On Murder:

Related Topics:
Murder | Arrest | Drunk Driving