MARINETTE — Further evaluation is required to help determine the competency of a man charged in a double murder more than 40 years ago in Marinette County.
At a competency hearing Monday for Raymond Vannieuwenhoven, it was determined that further testing will continue this week. Vannieuwenhoven, 83, Lakewood, was in the courtroom Monday and seated in a wheelchair next to his attorneys. The testing will take place today at the Marinette County Jail and will be administered by Dr. Kevin Miller of Keystone Psychology, Green Bay.
Vannieuwenhoven is charged in a 1976 double murder of a Green Bay couple who was camping at McClintock Park in the Town of Silver Cliff. David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, were shot and killed at the campground. They were engaged.
The case went cold for many years until the Marinette County Sheriff’s Department, utilizing new DNA technology with a Virginia lab, made a break in the case.
Vannieuwenhoven’s competency to stand trial is a key factor in the case. An earlier competency report determined that Vannieuwenhoven is competent to stand trial. His attorneys — Lee Schuchart and Travis Crowell — have asked for a second opinion.
Schuchart commented on his client’s ailing health, pointing out that Vannieuwenhoven may have recently suffered a stroke while at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, Wisconsin.
“It’s not like we (the defense) made up that our client had a stroke,” Schuchart said. “That’s what Mendota had told us had happened. They said he had a stroke. They waited roughly 3 to 3 and a half weeks until he was finally able to have an MRI and now they are telling us he didn’t have a stroke. But in our meetings — and we’ve met with Mr. Vannieuwenhoven enough — there is something going on, medically speaking, that we need to get to the bottom of and see if it affects competency.”
Schuchart said the defense’s main concern is for the safety and health of its client.
“When we’re asking for more time in the case, it’s not in any way losing sight of the fact that we want this case to move as quickly as we can, but we also want answers to these questions,” he said.
Before hearing from the medical professionals, Circuit Judge Jim Morrison spoke about Vannieuwenhoven’s stroke issue.
“I want to make it clear that nobody has suggested that the attorneys for Mr. Vanniewenhoven invented this issue of a stroke,” he said.
Morrison said that Dr. Ana Garcia of Mendota Mental Health Institute reported that, following the “stroke event,” the suspect was evaluated at UW Health University Hospital in Madison. “I think they took him to the best possible place they could take him to,” the judge said.
When asked if it was correct that Vannieuwenhoven did not have a stroke, Garcia, who appeared Monday by Zoom video, answered, “Yes sir.”
Miller, who also appeared via Zoom, said he believes any evaluation of the defendant’s competency should be put off for several months.
“What we have is a second- or third-hand radiology report saying what it wasn’t — well, what was it,” Miller said of the stroke issue. The doctor speculated that Vannieuwenhoven may have suffered a diabetic incident. He also noted the suspect has an aneurysm in his abdomen.
“My major concern with him is hearing and the types of testing that haven’t been done,” Miller said, adding that there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the suspect’s health.
Attorney Mark Williams, a special prosecutor who was seated with Marinette County District Attorney DeShea Morrow, said he disagreed with Dr. Miller on some of the information.
“From what we learned from Mendota, his hearing is functional,” he said of Vannieuwenhoven. “Second of all, he’s doing very well with his diabetes. It’s totally under control. His eyesight is 20-25 — better than mine. I don’t know why we can’t get this done within 30 days.”
Morrison said it was important that Miller meets with Vannieuwenhoven in order to give a thorough evaluation. Miller told the court he could do the evaluation this week.
The evaluation will take place this morning. The competency hearing to review the results of the testing will take place at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in Marinette County Circuit Court.
Vannieuwenhoven, who currently is being held at the Mendota facility in Madison, also allegedly sexually assaulted Matheys. The sexual assault charge was dismissed because the statute of limitations has expired. There is no statute of limitation on homicide charges.