Man found competent to stand trial for murder of Albert Lea grad

Published 1:48 pm Monday, December 27, 2010

By Sara Stultz

The 42-year-old Wisconsin man accused of killing Albert Lea High School graduate Ronald D. Lau in October was found mentally competent last week in Winnebago County Circuit Court in Wisconsin to stand trial in the case.

Mark D. West faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide for Lau’s death Oct. 29.

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He faces life in prison if convicted of the charge.

According to court documents, West reportedly shot Lau five times with a 12-gauge shotgun outside a duplex at 9265 County Highway M in Winchester, Wis.

West, who owned the residence, was Lau’s landlord.

Court records state West had allegedly waited with a shotgun inside Lau’s side of the duplex until Lau came home from work that morning.

While Lau received five shots, it was the last shot — one from only three inches away — that ultimately caused his death.

Court records state after West allegedly killed Lau, he attempted to cover up to burn Lau’s body, after first dragging it with a golf cart through grass 50 to 75 yards west of the home toward a field.

After West was allegedly unable to get Lau’s body into a 55-gallon burn barrel, he reportedly placed a large rug over the body where it remained near a field until police discovered it.

West also reportedly attempted to cover blood stains on the ground with gravel and hid Lau’s truck behind some pine trees in the back of the property.

According to court records online, West is next scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 6 in Winnebago County Circuit Court.

West remains in custody at the Winnebago County Jail on a $1 million cash bond.