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Man accused of killing wife changes plea

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

(WEAU) - A man accused of killing his wife has changed his plea.

Online court records show the attorney for Donald Lazar, 67, changed his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental defect or disease Monday in Rusk County Court.

Lazar is accused of shooting and killing his wife last December after an argument about paying their property taxes.

In June, he was found competent to stand trial after being evaluated, but following Monday's plea change, another evaluation was scheduled.

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(WEAU) - A man who was found incompetent to stand trial in the death of his wife in March, may now go to trial.

Online court records show Donald Lazar, 67, of Hawkins appeared by video conference in Rusk County court Monday and after a re-evaluation, the court found Lazar competent to stand trial.

He's accused of shooting and killing his wife last December after an argument about paying their property taxes.

Online records show Lazar's attorney requested a meeting with him to talk about a change in his plea.

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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) – The man accused of shooting and killing his wife after an argument about paying their property taxes has pleaded not guilty to a charge of First Degree Intentional Homicide With the Use of a Dangerous Weapon.

Online court records show that the attorney for Donald Lazar, 65, of Hawkins entered the plea on his client’s behalf Thursday morning. The court also found that there is enough evidence to show that a crime was committed to bind Lazar over for trial.

Prosecutors say Darlene Lazar, 65, and her husband had the argument last month. They say Darlene called for help, saying her husband had shot her, but the call was disconnected. Donald Lazar called back later, saying he had shot his wife in the head.
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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU)-The man accused of shooting and killing his wife is now charged with first degree intentional homicide.

According to the criminal complaint, on December 30, 2012 around 5 p.m., a Rusk County Sheriff's Department dispatcher got a call from Darlene Lazar. She reported that her husband, Donald Lazar, shot her. The deputy reported that Donald then took the phone and told the deputy that Darlene was unavailable and the call was disconnected. The deputy said that about a minute later he received a call from Donald who stated that he shot his wife in the head and arm using a .22 rifle. Donald stated to the deputy that Darlene was unresponsive and not breathing.

When deputies got to the Lazar home in the Township of Hawkins, they found Darlene lying on the kitchen floor dead. The complaint says deputies knew Darlene and Donald from prior law enforcement contacts.

Donald was arrested and taken to the Rusk County Law Enforcement Center where he was interviewed. He said he and his wife, Darlene, got into an argument on December 30, 2012, about paying the property taxes and her not flushing the toilet. He said that when Darlene exited the bathroom he grabbed her by the throat, shoved her back into the bathroom, and demanded she flush the toilet and wash her hands. Donald said when Darlene exited the bathroom she told him she was calling the cops. He stated while Darlene was on the phone with the cops he retrieved his .22 caliber rifle. Donald stated he faced Darlene and pointed the firearm at her and told Darlene, “Don’t do it.” He then pulled the trigger and the rifle fired a bullet that hit Darlene in the side, causing her to bend over slightly. Donald said he heard Darlene tell the cops, “He just shot me”. He stated that after he discharged the rifle he ejected the casing and reloaded a second round into the chamber. He said because he was already in trouble and he had enough he decided he might as well shoot her again. Donald said he intentionally pointed the rifle at Darlene for the second time, pulled the trigger, and shot Darlene in the temple area. He said Darlene fell to the floor and he laid the rifle on the sofa and called 911.

During the execution of a search warrant at the Lazar residence, law enforcement located a .22 caliber rifle on the living room sofa and a spent .22 caliber casing on the living room floor a short distance from Darlene’s body.

On December 31, 2012, Dr. Kelly Mills, a forensic pathologist, conducted a forensic autopsy of Darlene’s body. Dr. Mills determined that the cause of Darlene’s death was multiple gun shot wounds.

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STORY FROM 1/3/13

LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) – Prosecutors have received the case against a man accused of shooting his wife to death, but don’t anticipate filing a criminal complaint in the matter on Thursday.

Rusk County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf says her office received investigative materials in the case around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. She says prosecutors are looking through the reports, and will then prepare a complaint.

On Thursday, the Rusk County Clerk of Courts office read a copy of a probable cause statement to WEAU 13 News. It says that during an interview with investigators, Donald Lazar, 65, told them that he and his wife, Darlene Lazar, 65, had been arguing about payment arrangements for their property taxes. She went in the bathroom, and when she was about to come out, the report says Donald grabbed her by the throat and shoved her back into the bathroom.

It goes on to say that she told Donald that she was going to call the sheriff’s department, and that she was talking with law enforcement when Donald got a .22 caliber rifle and pointed it at her. He told her to put the phone down and pulled the trigger. A bullet hit her in the side. Donald told investigators that he didn’t mean to shoot her, just to scare her, and that he didn’t realize the gun was loaded. He thought that since he was already in trouble, he might as well shoot her again. He reportedly shot her in the temple, and she fell to the floor. He then called the sheriff’s department, and explained what had happened. Deputies later found a .22 caliber rifle and one spent casing near Darlene’s body.

The results of an autopsy performed on December 30 shows that she was shot multiple times, and lists the cause of death as homicide.
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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) – Investigators say they will request that a man accused of shooting his wife to death be charged with First Degree Murder.

Rusk County Sheriff David Kaminski says his department arrested Donald Lazar, 65, of Hawkins at his home on Old 14 Road. His wife, Darlene Lazar, 65, was found dead at the home.

The department, along with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, and the Rusk County Coroner’s Office are investigating.

Court Records show that Darlene Lazar filed for a temporary restraining order against her husband in July 2004. It was dismissed 10 days later. Court records also show that Donald Lazar pleaded no contest to a Disorderly Conduct – Domestic Abuse charge later that year for an incident that happened in July.
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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU)-A woman is dead after officers say her husband shot her.

The Rusk County Sheriff's Department says on Sunday at 5 p.m., dispatch got a 911 call from a woman saying she had been been shot by her husband. This happened in the Township of Hawkins. When deputies got to the scene, they arrested a man and found a woman who had died inside the home. Deputies say the woman died from a gunshot wound. Officers say it is domestic related.

The investigation continues and names will be released at a later date pending the completion of the investigation and notification of relatives.


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