By Lisa Pett
A Bancroft man accused of shooting his wife in June and holding law enforcement at bay for several hours in a standoff situation was found competent to stand trial for the crime today in Portage County Court.
Larry Sanchez, Sr., 55, meets the requirements for competency under state statute, according to Dr. Michael Galli, a clinical psychologist for the Wisconsin Forensic Unit.
State law requires that a defendant must meet two criteria: be able to understand the charges and proceedings and to be able to effectively assist in his or her own defense. Based on a hour-long interview Galli conducted with Sanchez, he has the ability to do both.
Sanchez’s attorney’s had argued that he suffers from memory problems and unspecified cognitive issues which would prevent him from assisting in his defense. Dr. Galli admitted under cross-examination that Sanchez initially showed some confusion and appeared to be under some delusion that his wife was still alive. But as the interview progressed, he admitted that he was told his wife was dead, and admitted to shooting her. He also understood the charges against him and that he was being represented by an attorney.
Sanchez allegedly shot his wife in a residence in the Village of Bancroft. Lisa Sanchez died on the scene from a single gunshot wound. Larry Sanchez subsequently barricaded himself inside the couple’s home for nearly three hours. Law enforcement officers had to use tear gas and pepper spray to remove him from the house.
Preliminary breath tests and a blood draw at the time of the incident indicated that Sanchez had a blood alcohol content of .24.
Defense attorney’s questioned why Dr. Galli failed to test Sanchez’s IQ or diagnose him for any potential mental health or psychological problems, which may be the result of mental illness or due to chronic alcoholism.
Dr. Galli, who has 35 years of professional experience, including ten years with the State of Wisconsin’s Forensic Unit evaluating defendants for competency, said that was not the object of his interview.
Judge Thomas Flugaur found Sanchez competent, based on Dr. Galli’s testimony. Sanchez faces charges of 1st degree intentional homicide, 2nd degree reckless homicide with a deadly weapon, homicide with a deadly weapon while intoxicated, and interfering with police officers.
He is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on September 21 and remains in the Portage County Jail on $1 million dollar bond.