Gary Styer mug

Gary Styer

MENOMONIE — A rural Colfax man charged in the death of his father has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Gary E. Styer, 51, appeared in Dunn County Court on Friday and pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his father, Edward Styer, 78.

The criminal complaint states Styer told investigators he used a piece of lumber to strike his father in the head and torso while he slept in the early morning hours of Jan. 15.

Dunn County deputies had responded to a call for a welfare check of Edward Styer because his son had gone to Eau Claire later that day and told someone his father may or may not be alive.

Styer said, according to the complaint, that he struck his father because of years of emotional and physical abuse he suffered as a child. Styer said his father’s comments about Styer’s unemployment also played a factor.

Defense attorney Jeremiah Harrelson asked the judge Friday to be given time to work with the state to come to a joint agreement about the expert who would be appointed to conduct the evaluation.

“We’d like to ask the court for a period of time, not long, but we think we could come to an agreed person that we’d like to present to the court for a possibility for appointment,” Harrelson said.

District Attorney Andrea Nodolf said she’s received a few names from the defense. Believing autism may have something to do with the care, Nodolf said, she needs more time to conduct research before reaching an agreement with the defense.

“I’m looking for an expert who might have some more specialty in that area,” she said.

Judge Rod Smeltzer asked an agreed-upon expert be submitted to the court in the next 20 days so the court can issue an order for evaluation.

Styer is scheduled to return to court July 24.