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Four weeks, four judges in Strom murder-for-hire case


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- A woman charged with trying to hire a killer has a new judge, again.

33-year-old Jessica Strom of Merrill is accused of soliciting the murder of her past boyfriend and fiancé, attorney John Schellpfeffer.

Marathon County Judge Michael Moran recused himself earlier this month since he is familiar with the intended victim. Clark County Judge Jon Counsell was appointed, but defense attorney Gary Kryshak immediately filed for a substitution before Counsell could preside over any appearances. Taylor County Judge Ann Knox-Bauer was appointed to handle the case, and Kryshak again filed a motion to replace the judge. On Friday, the court has appointed Vilas County Judge Neal A. Nielsen III. Nielsen is the substitute judge that presided over Strom’s preliminary hearing and arraignment March 13th.

Since many of the Marathon County legal officials are familiar with the defendant and the intended victim, they have recused themselves from the case. That’s why Langlade County District Attorney Ralph Uttke is serving as the special prosecutor.

The scheduling of new court dates had to wait until a new judge was selected.  The court also has to rule on motions made a week ago requesting a competency examination on Strom by the Department of Health Services.