A Portage man was sentenced to two years in prison for injuring a Portage police officer and attacking a woman on a sandbar in the Wisconsin River.
Lance Mueller, 58, appeared Monday in Columbia County Circuit Court for two cases. In one, stemming from an incident in June, he was charged with one count of misdemeanor obstructing an officer and two counts of felony battery to a law enforcement officer. In September, he was again arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery, one count of disorderly conduct, one count of resisting an officer and three counts of felony bail jumping.
Following a plea deal, charges were dropped with the exception of one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of resisting an officer.
“He has been on (Department of Corrections) supervision for close to 40 years,” said Assistant District Attorney Troy Cross, pointing out the charges in 2017 coincided with the only time in Mueller’s adult life he has not been under state supervision.
The June arrest stemmed from a situation in which Portage police officers went to his residence where Abigail Rott, 38, of Portage, was arrested for bail jumping and Mueller was arrested and in the process fought with police, resulting in one officer suffering a fractured wrist.
Mueller was released in July on $350 cash bond and then arrested on new charges Sept. 11.
The incident began with Portage police officers being called to Discount Liquor on East Wisconsin Street just after 6 p.m that Saturday where a woman reported she had been attacked by Mueller while with friends on a Wisconsin River sandbar nearby.
“He has shown over and over that he cannot be trusted when consuming alcohol,” Cross said at Monday’s hearing.
Rott appeared in court to support Mueller, saying: “I think alcohol has a lot to do with it and he doesn’t drink anymore… he’s doing really well right now and regrets these two events.”
Defense attorney Ronald Benavides said an abusive upbringing led to Mueller’s criminal history, which started in the 1970s.
Benavides told the court that, according to Mueller, Portage police had “kicked in the door,” while Mueller and Rott were together in the bedroom.
“The very nature of the thing, anyone would be upset,” said Benavides. “It is difficult for the officers and it is difficult for him.”
Since Mueller’s release from jail, Benavides said that he had been clean, seeking treatment and taking medication to prevent relapse, a prescription pill that causes any ingestion of alcohol to result in violent illness.
“On paper sir, you’re a disaster,” said Judge W. Andrew Voigt. “And it was very clearly your use of alcohol that got you into trouble again.”
Voigt said that Benavides’ description of the situations and Mueller’s positive steps had convinced him to at least reconsider, but he returned to the fact that Mueller had previously been given five prison sentences in cases in five different states.
Admitting it could be possible that Mueller was, for the first time in his life, turning things around, Voigt found it to be too little too late.
“We can’t with six months of sobriety and effort ignore escalating violence,” said Voigt, telling Mueller he felt the already dropped charges reflected consideration of his recent steps. “I like to be a glass-half-full kind of guy, but you have a lot of history stacked against you.”
Mueller was ordered to be taken into custody to immediately begin serving his sentence of two years incarceration followed by two years extended supervision.