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Prosecutor Outlines Case Against Union Brothers Charged in Vat Killing

September 28, 1995

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ Six union brothers beat a fellow millworker, then threw his weighted body into a pulp vat after learning he was a police snitch, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

``We can prove the only people who were there, who had the opportunity, were these six people,″ Assistant District Attorney Larry Lasee said in his opening statement. ``They had the motive. They had the desire. They were the gang. They were the murderers.″

The six men are charged with intentional homicide in the 1992 death of Thomas Monfils, whose body was found at the bottom of a two-story vat at James River Corp., a 40-pound weight tied to his neck

Prosecutors contend the six co-workers confronted Monfils, 35, accused him of being a snitch, beat him and tossed him into the vat. His body was found the next day.

An autopsy showed Monfils had broken ribs, a fractured jaw and a skull fracture but was alive when thrown into the vat, Lasee said.

Monfils had called police anonymously to tip them that one of the men intended to steal a length of electrical cord from the factory, and the man obtained a tape-recording of the call, authorities said.

``The state will show Tom Monfils was killed because he made a fatal mistake. Tom Monfils reported to the Green Bay Police Department that defendant Keith Kutska was about to steal an extension cord. As a result of that, he was murdered,″ Lasee said.

The defendants are Kutska, 44; Rey Moore, 48; Dale Basten, 53; Mike Piaskowski, 46; Mike Hirn, 25; and Michael L. Johnson, 47. Conviction carries a mandatory life prison term.

Earlier Wednesday, defense lawyers asked Circuit Judge Thomas Bayorgeon not to let the jury see a videotape of Monfils’ body being pulled from the vat. Monfils’ widow, Susan, fought back tears as defense attorney Royce Finne described the videotape as ``grotesque.″

Bayorgeon said he would rule on the defense motions after opening statements.

The trial was expected to last about three weeks.

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