CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (AP) — A judge has rejected a request to withdraw no contest pleas by a man convicted of causing a western Wisconsin crash that killed three Girl Scouts and a mother in 2018.
Colten Treu was sentenced to 54 years in prison after entering the pleas to four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and one count of hit-and-run causing great bodily harm.
Treu’s new lawyer, Dennis Schertz, contends that Treu’s original attorneys “erroneously advised” him that he could still appeal his denied request for a change of venue, even after entering a plea.
Treu testified via video from prison Wednesday that he would not have entered a plea in the case, and would have gone to trial, if he had known that he would not be able to appeal the failed motion, the Leader Telegram reported.
Chippewa County Judge James Isaacson told Treu in denying his request that there is no evidence of improper advice by his original attorneys.
Authorities said Treu was huffing from an aerosol canister before he crashed his pickup truck into the victims as they picked up trash along a highway. He then drove away.
The four people killed were Jayna Kelley, 9, and Autumn Helgeson, 10, both of Lake Hallie, Wisconsin; and Haylee Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32, both of the Town of Lafayette, Wisconsin.
A 10-year-old girl was injured in the crash and was hospitalized for three weeks.
The girls were fourth-graders and members of Troop 3055 in nearby Chippewa Falls.