Most Serious Charged Dropped in Grave-Digging Case

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

LANCASTER, Wis. - Three young men won't face sex charges in a Cassville grave robbery case.

Prosecutors say twin brothers Alex and Nicholas Grunke and their friend, Dustin Radke, all 20 years old, tried to dig up a corpse for sexual purposes.

On Friday, a judge ruled the three will go on trial, but not for the most serious charge.

Officers called it one of their most bizarre cases ever. On September 2, officers found the grave of a recent traffic accident victim disturbed at the St. Charles Cemetery.

At a preliminary hearing, investigators told the judge how they found the van with digging tools and a package of condoms.

Reading from a taped interview, prosecutors said Radke explained the strange reason for robbing a grave. The transcript reads, "He wanted to have sex with a dead body."

"With Laura?"

"Yes."

The prosecutor insisted the crime fit a Wisconsin definition of sexual abuse of a victim either living or dead. But defense attorneys said that was the wrong charge and nothing in Wisconsin law called what happened a sex crime.

"There is no felony charge so the court should not find the defendant over of attempted sexual third degree sexual assault," said defense attorney Rose Oliveto.

Judge George Curry agreed with the defense and threw out the sex charge involving the corpse, but he ruled there was enough to go to trial on other charges. He said, "They intended to cause damage to property and they did so without the consent of the owner."

Those charges the three now face carry a possible $10,000 fine and three-and-a-half years in prison.

Iowa code does have a specific law prohibiting sexual abuse of a human corpse. Conviction in Iowa carries a possible term of up to five years in prison. Because of this case, a Wisconsin lawmaker is trying to get a similar law in that state.
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