Oct 7, 1995, Monfils Homicide: Basten testifies, through lawyer, Friday highlights
A2 Saturday. October 7, 1995 Green Bay Press-Gazette I. ; - -:. . Basten By Paul Srubas Press-Gazette Dale Basten took the stand -sort of - and testified for both the prosecution's and defense's cases Friday afternoon. He didn't testify in person, but lawyers read to jurors the sworn testimony he'd given in deposition for a wrongful death lawsuit filed against him and other defendants in the criminal case. It was the jury's first opportunity to hear from one of the defendants, even though the words came indirectly, through his lawyer, Avram Berk. Basten, Keith Kutska, Mike Piaskowski, Rey Moore, Mike Him and Mike Johnson are charged with being party to homicide in Tom Monfils' death. Defendants often testify in their own defense, but Basten's lawyers won't say whether he'll testify. Prosecutors got to do the next best thing by having parts of his Friday's Paperworker Al DeBauche testified Friday he overheard Keith Kutska say when he next saw Tom Monfils he would "kick his ass." Kutska's lawyer, Royce Finne, asked DeBauche why he said nothing to police about Kutska's remark until nearly a year after Monfils' death and well after he knew Kutska was a suspect. DeBauche said he didn't remember it until James River officials .reminded him of it. "At no time did anyone suggest that was said," DeBauche said. ' "Oh, I'm sure that's true," Finne told him. Finne asked Judge James Bayor-geon to have the quote struck from the record because he wasn't notified in advance it would be included in DeBauche's testimony. Bayorgeon denied the request, saying prosecutors made a good-faith gffort to make the information 4 From A-l Monfils return to his own job site on the .No. 8 paper machine. Prosecutors have said the meet-4ng in the No. 9 control booth came just before a second confrontation with Monfils, and they contend that is the cpnfrontation at which Monfils was beaten to unconsciousness before being thrown nto a pulp vat, where his body turned up the next day. . However, Lepak said he testifies, deposition testimony read into the trial record. And defense lawyers, who have yet to present their cases, also got to pick parts of the deposition to be read. The testimony was given Dec. 21, 1993, when lawyers questioned Basten and other defendants for the wrongful death lawsuit that Monfils' widow, Susan, filed against those six men, then-union president Marlin Charles and paperworker Randy Lepak. Prosecutors wanted Basten's testimony to show who was present when Monfils disappeared. Basten's and Johnson's lawyers wanted it in part to show that their client's presence was justified near the No. 7 and No. 9 paper machines. That's the area where angry coworkers confronted Monfils with a tape of Monfils tipping police that Kutska planned to steal a mill extension cord. According to Basten's testimony: He and Johnson were called to the No. 9 machine about 6:40 a.m. highlights available to the defense. DeBauche said he probably was one of the first workers to hear the tape of Monfils reporting Kutska's planned theft of a mill extension cord. DeBauche was just getting ready to go home on Nov. 21, 1992, the day of Monfils' disappearance, when Kutska, who had just arrived to work, played the tape for him. As DeBauche was ending his shift, he passed Monfils on the way in and warned him that Kutska had obtained the tape from Green Bay police. "He rolled his eyes, like 'Oh, shit!' " DeBauche said. "Then he thanked me, and that was the last time I saw him." DeBauche said the No. 9 control booth at one point was so crowded with people trying to hear the tape that he couldn't get his work done. He told them "to take the circus elsewhere," he said. returned to his own job at about 7:30 a.m., a few minutes before prosecutors say that second confrontation took place. Lepak heard later - he wasn't sure when - that Monfils was missing from his job site on the No. 7 machine, and Lepak helped search the mill. While doing so, he ran into Moore. Lawyers argued about whether Lepak should be allowed to testify about what Moore said to him. Outside the jury's presence, assistant district attorney Bill Griesbach said be expect Lepak to quote Moore as saying something through because the machine developed a "stock flow problem," meaning that an improper mix of pulp and water was causing the machine to produce faulty paper. Basten chose to attack the problem by "tweaking" a valve in the basement beneath the machine. However, engineer Tony Barko testified earlier in the trial that the problem could have been just as easily corrected in the No. 9 machine's control booth. Basten and Johnson entered the empty control booth about 7:20 a.m. While working on computers in the room, they were joined by Piaskowski, Kutska, Moore, Jon Mineau, Dave Daniels, Don Boulanger and Connie Jones. Basten didn't recall whether Him also came in. Kutska told everyone, "I've got something you guys should hear," and then started a tape player with the tape of Monfils' police tip. Basten heard only part of it because he wasn't paying attention and Monfils trial Prosecutors say: On Nov. 1 0, 1 992, Tom Monfils, a James River paper millworker, called Green Bay police to report that coworker Keith Kutska planned to steal a mill extension cord. Kutska was suspended from work for five days after he refused to open his duffel bag for mill security guards alerted by police. Kutska got an audio tape copy of the police tip, identified the caller as Monfils and repeatedly played the tape for others at the mill. Kutska and others confronted Monfils at work Nov. 21, 1992, and one or more of them beat Monfils. His body was found the next day in a paper pulp vat Defendants: Keith Kutska, Dale Basten, Mike Him, Mike Johnson, Rey Moore and Mike like, "What do you care about him for, he's nothing better than a snitch or scab anyway." Judge James Bayorgeon said he will allow the testimony, likely to be given today. Bayorgeon also will allow Lepak to testify to comments he overheard between Kutska, Piaskowski and Him. Griesbach said Lepak will quote either Kutska or Piaskowski as saying to Him something like, "What did you do to Monfils? It's all your fault." Defense lawyers will question Lepak today. During a break in Friday's testimony, Kutska flashed Lepak a lawyer never recognized Monfils' voire. Johnson returned to the basement valve, and Kutska and Basten left the control room and hung out at the smoking table near the machine. While there, Kutska pointed out a man in a cap walking behind the paper rolls, and Basten understood that man to be Monfils. Basten went back into the control booth at about 7:35 a.m. and saw Boulanger, Mineau and Daniels. Kutska and Johnson came in. Sometime before 7:47 a.m., Kutska told them, "He's gone, he's off the job," referring to Monfils, who was missing from his work station on the No. 7 machine. Basten went for a walk, stuck his head in the No. 7 control booth and told Piaskowski, "I hear you guys are making extra money working short-handed." Moore, who worked elsewhere in the mill, was in the control booth, too. Basten overheard Piaskowski trying to describe Monfils to Him by the hat he was wearing. at a glance Questions? Do you have questions about the Tom Monfils trial or how the court system works during a trial? Call 436-7838 Monday through Saturday, and we'll find the answers. Piaskowski. Charge: First-degree intentional homicide. All six defendants are charged with being party to that crime, a provision covering those who aid and abet the commission of a crime or take part in a conspiracy to commit a crime. Penalty: Life imprisonment. Source: Brown County court documents "thumbs-up", and mouthed a few words from across the courtroom. Lepak was named early on as one of the suspects. He is among eight people - including all six defendants in the murder case -named in a wrongful death lawsuit that Monfils' widow, Susan, filed in May 1993. Lepak never was charged with being party to homicide. He faced only a charge of blackballing, a misdemeanor, and the charge was further reduced. He paid a $1,000 forfeiture for harassment, which is not considered a crime, and $200 for disorderly conduct.