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Judge rules Bellard unfit to stand trial in neighbor killing

Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

JANESVILLE, WI (WTAQ) - A 75-year-old man could spend the rest of his life in a mental institution, before he could ever stand trial for the killing of one of his neighbors.

A circuit judge in Rock County has ruled that Daniel Bellard is unfit to go on trial, after he allegedly shot and killed 59-year-old Christine Gestrich in February at his farm west of Beloit.

Authorities said Bellard shot the neighbor before shooting himself twice. Prosecutors said the man feared that Gestrich was going to seize his land.

Bellard spent five months at a Madison hospital to be treated for his gunshot wounds. The judge said Bellard's age and injuries make him unfit for a trial.

The defendant was sent to the state's Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison.

Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary says Bellard has early signs of dementia. As a result, the DA says it's likely that Bellard will never be found competent to stand trial.