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Wisconsin man removes mental defect portion of not guilty plea in Stillwater slayings

Steven Van Keuren, the man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her friend in September 2006, changed a part of his plea to Washington County courts Monday, June 18.

Van Keuren, who is still held in the Washington County Jail on $6 million bond, is accused of breaking into Teri Lee's West Lakeland home and shooting her and her friend, Tim Hawkinson Sr., to death.

Both Lee and Van Keuren had worked at 3M. The pair dated for a couple years, but had recently broken up. Van Keuren was free on bail from a July 2006 incident where he allegedly attacked Lee with a knife in her home. Hawkinson had been a long-time friend of Lee's.

The River Falls, Wis., man was arrested in Lee's home the morning of Sept. 23, 2006, around 6 a.m., about 90 minutes after the shootings.

One of Lee's daughters had been in the room where Lee, 38, and Hawkinson, 47, were sleeping when Van Keuren, 46, entered. She managed to get herself and her younger sister out of the house. The pair ran to a neighbor's home and they called police.

Lee's sons remained inside, unharmed by Van Keuren, until special response unit members entered the house. Van Keuren was found with self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He spent several weeks in the hospital, but survived, and has been in the jail since.

Van Keuren faces two counts of first-degree murder as well as first-degree burglary, assault and terroristic threats.

Van Keuren had originally entered a not guilty due to mental illness defense, but the mental defect claim was removed from the plea Monday.

Jury selection was expected to wrap up by Wednesday, June 20, with the trial to get underway afterward.

If he is convicted of first-degree murder, Van Keuren could receive a life sentence.