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Former Dane County deputy Andy Steele, 39, appeared in Dane County Circuit Court Friday afternoon by video conference from Rock County where he's being held. Steele was formally charged Friday in the deaths of 39-year-old Ashley Steele and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota. He's charged with two counts of homicide and one of them as domestic abuse.
Steele would face mandatory life in prison if he's convicted.
Bail was set at $1 million. Court Commissioner Scott McAndrew said it's unlikely Steele would post bail, but if he does, there should be further review.
The Dane County District Attorney asked for $5 million bail on Steele, saying that the homicides were planned and that Steele comes from a family of means and has access to fundraising money from his ALS diagnosis.
Steele's attorney said ALS donations will go to another ALS charity and would not be used toward bail or his legal defense. His attorney asked for $100,000 bail.
Tollefsbol was found inside the home at 3038 Yarmouth Greenway Dr. when the first officer at the scene the afternoon of Aug. 22 heard her call, “I am dying. I am dying,” according to the criminal complaint [PDF]. Tollefsbol was found just inside a basement door.
The complaint states that when she was asked who shot her she said, “My brother-in-law.” She was later pronounced dead at a UW Hospital. Tollefsbol also identified Andy Steele as the person who shot her during a call to 911, according to the complaint.
Officers also heard the sound of a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector coming from the home when they first arrived.
Officers said they found Ashlee Steele with a zip tie around her neck, wearing a sleep mask, in bed, with a gunshot wound to head, and pillow with a hole in it.
The complaint states that officers in the Steele home found Andy lying in the laundry room, with a dryer vented into the room, a gun on the floor, and a charcoal grill burning.
Officers said Steele was "alert and resistive" toward officers who entered.
Ashlee Steele’s sister-in-law told police that she missed a call from Ashlee about an ice bucket challenge event at 9:45 a.m. the day of the homicide. She said she called Ashlee back at 10:14 a.m. and 10:25 a.m., but got no answer. She told officers it was uncharacteristic for Ashlee not to answer her phone.
Andy Steele had resigned from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office after a diagnosis of ALS. He was involved in ice bucket challenge events before his arrest.
The complaint does not detail any interviews with Andy Steele or any information about a possible motive. Steele's attorney said in court that there is "no motive apparent", and that the couple was happily married and working as a team.
A funeral service for the sisters will be held Friday afternoon in Stillwater, Minnesota, at the Church of St. Michael.
A preliminary hearing for Steele is scheduled for Thursday.
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