A Columbia County Circuit Court judge denied a motion to reduce a $500,000 bond for a Poynette man arrested after an armed standoff last December.
Michael Morgan, 41, was arrested Dec. 12, 2016, when Poynette police officers and members of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched around 6:30 p.m., for a report of a suicidal man with a gun and then to reports of shots fired.
Morgan reportedly fired a rifle several times, including in the direction of responding officers as they began surrounding his home. Two deputies returned fire, though Morgan, who had been outside near the front door, returned inside unhurt.
His wife and children then left the house through the front door. Morgan surrendered minutes later.
Morgan was charged with three counts of first-degree intentional attempted homicide, four counts of intentionally pointing a firearm at a person, one count of operating a firearm while intoxicated, one count of endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of resisting arrest.
The second deputy to return fire at Morgan was called to a similar situation in Pardeeville in August of this year, involving a suspect in a domestic disturbance allegedly handling a firearm while intoxicated. In that case he was first on the scene and returned fire after being shot at, killing Thomas Selje.
On Oct. 26, defense attorney Amanda Riek wrote to the court asking that the $500,000 cash bond be reduced to $20,000 cash writing that Morgan “remains in custody unable to post that bond since it was set almost a year ago on Dec. 20, 2016. His wife continues to experience significant health problems and he continues to experience a lack of mental health care while in custody.”
In court Thursday, District Attorney Jane Kohlwey cited victim impact statements in which Morgan’s wife wrote about dealing with cancer before the incident with “no husband to lean on,” which was not a terminal diagnosis at any stage and going on to quote a statement from one of his children stating a preference that Morgan stay away.
Riek expressed concerns of proceedings being dragged out. The trial date has been rescheduled from October to next February, in part due to a second psychological analysis being ordered, with the doctor having no contact so far with Morgan.
The case was originally assigned to Judge Alan White in Branch 3 and with no judge having been assigned to permanently fill the seat and an election scheduled for April, it is unknown what judge will handle the case as it goes to trial.
“My office has been in contact with the family,” said Riek, “and I think their current viewpoints are different from the ones in the victim impact statement.”
Riek said that she had not seen the victim impact statements and was unaware of what date they were taken, but said she suspected that the personal views of family members may be different now from what Kohlwey suggested.
“The number of people that it is alleged he put at risk by his behavior is probably difficult to quantify,” said Judge W. Andrew Voigt, “because the number has to be surprisingly large.”
Voigt said that despite complications and stalling of the court process, it would be difficult to reason how a release for Morgan would play out given the intimacy between himself and the victims.
“The allegations involve firing a weapon in the direction of other people including law enforcement officers,” said Voigt, “and that is simply too serious of a set of allegations for this court to be confident that Mr. Morgan isn’t going to repeat this type of behavior and that he is going to come back to court to face these allegations.
In February, Morgan appeared for a preliminary hearing where he entered a plea of not guilty for reason of mental disease. He is scheduled for a five-day jury trial beginning Feb. 12.