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Police Officer Charged With Murder

September 18, 1986

BARABOO, Wis. (AP) _ A police officer has been charged with murdering a man who lay face down, handcuffed, outside the dwelling where neighbors say he had moved to avoid crime in Texas.

John Mueller, 40, was charged Wednesday with the first-degree murder of John Graham, who authorities said was shot twice Tuesday in the back of the head during a marijuana investigation.

Graham, 49, and his wife moved in February to Sauk City from the Houston area, saying he was tired of seeing crime, said neighbor Chris Hellem. ″What upsets me so much is that, when we first met them in May, John said the reason they moved from Texas is they were so upset about all the murders down there; and now he’s murdered.″

Judge James Evenson scheduled a preliminary hearing Sept. 30 and ordered Mueller, a five-year member of the eight-man police department serving Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, held on $50,000 bail.

Mueller’s attorney, Russell J. Mittelstadt of Madison, called the bail unnecessarily severe. His client, a Vietnam veteran, is a man of ″meticulous deportment,″ Mittlestadt said.

Graham was shot after he was stopped by Mueller and an off-duty Department of Natural Resources game warden, John Buss, said Sheriff Alan B. Shanks. They removed Graham from his truck in the driveway of the condominium building after he refused to get out, and Mueller put Graham on the ground and handcuffed him.

A complaint filed with the court said Buss asked Mueller for evidence bags and Mueller replied ″that would not be neccessary.″ Mueller then walked over to Graham and ″Buss heard a shot and when he looked up, he saw Mueller with his service revolver drawn and pointing downward toward (Graham), fire his revolver,″ the complaint said.

Sauk City and neighboring Prairie du Sac have a combined population of about 5,700.

The shooting made some the two town’s 5,700 residents distrustful of police, said police Chief Robert Rentmeester. ″This is a small community that has to put it’s trust in its officers for protection. I guess if I were the average citizen, I’d scratch my head. They’ve been violated.

″I just hope they understand this is not the ordinary type of officer, and this is not the way officers have been trained to do things.″

Graham’s neighbor Mrs. Hellem said, ″I don’t understand it. I’m against drugs, but I didn’t think you could get murdered for it.″

″I just can’t believe what happened,″ neighbor Robert Gordon said. Graham ″was fun to be around. I got a charge out of the guy.″

Neighbors said Graham had gotten a job with a telephone company, but was laid off three weeks later and was feeling despondent.

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