Steele ordered to stay in institution; says ‘I caused their death’

Steele ordered to stay in institution; says ‘I caused their death’
Andrew Steele

A judge has ruled that a former deputy found not guilty by reason of mental defect in a homicide case should remain in an institution.

Andrew Steele, 40, pleaded insanity in the killings of his wife, Ashlee Steele, and sister-in-law, Kacee Tollefsbol, and will be committed to the Department of Health Services. A judge said he would pose a risk of bodily harm to himself or others if he was released. Steele was found not guilty by reason of mental defect on two homicide charges April 23.

The judge said Steele’s commitment order must be reconsidered from time to time.

Steele told the court he doesn’t object to institutionalization. He told the court, “Ashlee and Kacee are two of the greatest people to ever walk this earth.” He said, “Kacee was among the best friends that I’ve ever had and they’re both gone because I caused their death.”

“I do not know what happened that day,” he said. Speaking to the victims’ children, he said, “All I can do is pray for their resilience and pray that their pain eases as time goes on.”

“I pray that their pain eases as days go on and that they find peace,” he said at the end of his remarks.

Dr. Erik Knudson, a doctor at Mendota Health Institute, told the court that Steele, “told me that he could not do things that we later observed that he could do.”

A police sergeant testified that Steele would have the strength to pull the trigger on most firearms based on his demonstrated motor skills.

The victims’ brother, Brad Putnam, said Steele should go to an institution for life. “If he’s capable of doing it once, he can do it again,” he said. “Steele should not be shown sympathy for his ALS. He did not show any mercy to my sisters.”

Steele’s father, Bill Steele, said Andrew Steele’s two children were upset they were not called to testify in court.. He said there was no doubt in his mind that it was brain damage that caused the deaths in Steele’s home last August, and he had shared that with Steele’s children.

“My opinion was it was ALS,” Bill Steele said. “I said, ‘You know your dad just like I knew your dad and is that something you’d ever expect your dad to do?’ And the answer would be no. And I think if Andy didn’t have ALS this would never have happened.”