A Wisconsin teenager who shot and killed his grandparents in 2019 was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. Alexander M. Kraus faces a minimum of 40 years, and afterward, he will be eligible to petition for supervised release.
On April 14, 2019, then 17-year-old Kraus called 911 to report that he had killed his grandparents in their Grand Chute home, reported the Appleton Post-Crescent. He told emergency dispatchers that he “needed to be arrested by the police,” according to the criminal complaint filed two days after the murder.
Authorities arrived at the home and found the bodies of Dennis Kraus, 74, and Leah Kraus, 73. Law enforcement searched the property and found the teenager's backpack containing a typed plan for murdering his grandparents.
The 17-year-old was taken into custody at Outagamie County jail on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Kraus initially pleaded guilty to both counts.
“I love my grandparents,” he told the court. “I'm so sorry.”
During the June 2021 trial, Kraus attempted to argue that he was unable to understand what he had done wrong because of his mental illness. However, the jury did not agree.
After Kraus was found guilty, Outagamie County Judge Mitchell Metropulos halted his sentencing. The judge found that Kraus was not fit to proceed and ordered him first to receive treatment.
Kraus underwent three evaluations before Metropulos decided that he could proceed to sentencing.
Under Wisconsin law, the judge was required to sentence Kraus to life in prison for first-degree homicide. However, it was Metropulos' decision to determine when Kraus was eligible to petition for supervised release.
The county's district attorney, Melinda Tempelis, requested that Kraus be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release. She argued that, during law enforcement's investigation, they discovered that Kraus had additional plans to cause harm to students at the high school he attended.
Tempelis insisted that the murder of Kraus' grandparents and subsequent arrest had prevented him from harming his classmates. “I do not believe the community is or will be safe with the defendant in it,” Tempelis said. “I also believe significant punishment for the horrific murder of two wonderful people in our community is not only appropriate but is expected.”
Kraus' attorney, George Petit, requested that Kraus be eligible for release after 20 years in prison. “This wasn't a case of an evil person,” Petit stated. “It was a kid with mental health issues that did something horrible.”
“Obviously, the severity of the offense is significant,” Metropulos said, “as horrible of a crime as we have. Mr. Kraus killed his grandparents, and he killed both, one right after the other, and it was without mercy, and it was with intent, and it was well planned out.”
Now 20 years old, Kraus faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. Judge Metropulos sentenced the teenager to serve a minimum of 20 years for each of the two charges.
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