MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former Wisconsin sheriff's deputy who killed his wife and sister-in-law but was found not legally responsible because of his ailing health died Tuesday, his defense attorney said.
Attorney Jessa Nicholson Goetz, who represented ex-deputy Andrew Steele during his trial, said the 42-year-old died at UW Hospital in Madison of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease.
Steele had been at the hospital for about a week and was having trouble breathing because of his disease, Nicholson Goetz said.
"The entire case was a tragedy," she said. "I'm glad he was able to pass as peacefully as possible."
Investigators said Steele fatally shot his wife, Ashlee Steele, and her sister, Kacee Tollefsbol of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, at the couple's suburban Madison home in 2014, then tried to kill himself.
Steele's attorneys said he suffered from a neurocognitive disorder resulting from Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS, which attacks nerve cells that control muscles. Prosecutors said Steele suffered from a depression disorder but was not insane, and that he planned the murders.
"Maybe it's selfish, but I hope he's in a horrible place, because he never apologized to us," the victims' brother, Brad Putnam, told the Wisconsin State Journal.
Ashlee Steele, 39, was strangled with a plastic zip tie and shot in the head on Aug. 22, 2014, at the couple's home in Fitchburg. Tollefsbol, 38, was beaten and shot in the lower abdomen, but managed to call 911. Steele, who was not in a wheelchair at the time of the killings, tried to kill himself with carbon monoxide by lighting charcoal in the laundry room of the home, investigators said.
Andrew Steele pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Jurors found him not legally responsible for the killings in 2015, and he was committed.
Steele had been a deputy since November 1998. He resigned in June 2014 after he was diagnosed with ALS. Ashlee Steele was leading a fundraising drive for her husband when she was killed.
Steele, a native of Saginaw Township, Michigan, was released from a mental hospital last year and into the custody of his parents after a judge ruled he no longer posed a threat.