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Plea hearing on hold for triple homicide suspect; DA wants DNA from other suspect

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Rattanasack Hearing May 24-1.jpg

A plea hearing for one of the men accused in a triple homicide near West Salem in July 2021 is on hold for the moment.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A plea hearing for one of the men accused in a triple homicide near West Salem in July 2021 is on hold for the moment. 

Khamthaneth Rattanasack appeared in a La Crosse County courtroom on Wednesday morning for a scheduled plea hearing. 

Rattanasack and Nya Thao are both charged with three counts of Party to the Crime of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide in the shooting deaths of three people at a rock quarry in the Town of Hamilton on July 23, 2021. 

The bodies of Peng Lor, Nemo Yang, and Trevor Maloney were found at the quarry off of County M by workers that morning. The three had been shot several hours earlier. 

Rattanasack and Thao were arrested about a week later after they fled the area following the shooting. They'd been identified by a witness to the shooting. 

One of the people interviewed by investigators said that the shooting happened because Rattanasack believed that Yang or Lor may have stolen some credit cards totaling around $600.

During Wednesday's court hearing, La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said that there were a few more details that needed to be worked out before moving forward.

A hearing is scheduled for July 14 according to online records. 

Rattanasack has remained in custody since his arrest in 2021.

Later Wednesday morning, a hearing over getting a DNA sample for Thao was argued in court. 

District Attorney Tim Gruenke sent a letter to Judge Elliott Levine requesting he order the DNA sample. The letter gave details about why the sample was needed. 

On April 13, 2023, two people found a firearm that authorities believed could have been used in the shootings. Based on previous information from Rattanasack, authorities knew the firearm used to shoot the three men was thrown from the vehicle in the area where the firearm was found. Authorities searched that area in 2021 but failed to find the weapon. 

The letter said that no fingerprints were found, but analysis showed that DNA was present on on the firearm. "This preliminary testing indicates that a two person mixture including at least one male donor is present on the muzzle of the firearm," the letter said. 

Thao's attorney argued that too much time had passed and that there wasn't probable cause to get the sample. 

Judge Levine ruled in favor of the prosecution. 

Rattanasack already had a DNA sample on file before Wednesday's hearing. 

It wasn't determined whether or not this would affect the trial of Thao which is scheduled to start on June 12. 


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