A Milwaukee judge decided that Dan Popp—the White man charged with triple homicide in the murder of a Puerto Rican man and Hmong couple—is not competent to stand trial.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge J.D. Watts ruled yesterday (April 6) that Popp is unfit to stand trial after a court-ordered mental health evaluation found he could not understand the charges against him or aid in his own defense. The judge also ruled that Popp will be committed to a mental health facility up to a year, with suspension of court proceedings and periodic review to see if his treatment renders him fit for court.
As we reported last month, Popp faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. According to a criminal complaint and witness testimony, Popp allegedy went to Jesus Manso-Perez and his teenage son’s apartment and asked where they were from. When he learned they were from Puerto Rico, Popp reportedly said, “Oh, that’s why you don’t speak English,” before shooting at them and killing the elder Manso-Perez. The complaint said that Popp then went to the nearby apartment of Hmong couple Phia Vue and Mai K. Vue, where he fatally shot them in front of their children.
Some of the victims’ family members joined with a coalition of 22 community advocacy groups that cuts across many of Milwaukee’s racial and ethnic communities to demand additional hate crime charges. “Lives were taken because of Dan J. Popp’s hatred for those who are different from him,” Tou Xiong, Mai K. Vue’s brother, told reporters.
“From the beginning of this case people were rushing to say, ‘Oh this was a mental illness issue,’” Darryl Morin of the League of United Latin American Citizens said while speaking on behalf of the Manso-Perez family yesterday. “Every expert we’ve spoken to on the issue of hate crimes has said there’s always been some degree of mental illness involved.”