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Twice found incompetent, man accused in killing again able to assist his defense

Twice found incompetent, man accused in killing again able to assist his defense

The first-degree intentional homicide case against a Mount Horeb man charged in the seemingly random killing of a Blue Mounds man last year is back on again after the accused killer was found competent to assist his attorneys.

Riley L. Berg, 22, was found in November to be incompetent for the second time since he was charged with the Jan. 15, 2020, death of Nicholas Day, 26. But a new report and testimony from a psychologist from the Mendota Mental Health Institute helped determine that Berg has again regained the ability to understand the court proceedings against him and assist his attorneys.

Berg had been treated back to competency at Mendota once before. But when he was returned to the Dane County Jail he stopped taking prescribed medications and in November again became incompetent.

Riley Berg


Berg’s lawyer, Brian Severson, argued Berg is still incompetent and that more time at Mendota instead of at the Dane County Jail would improve Berg’s condition. At the jail, he said, Berg would probably languish because trials are not being scheduled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds said she understood Severson’s frustration with the lack of movement in cases, but said District Attorney Ismael Ozanne had met his burden in showing that Berg is now competent.

She said she knows Berg does not want to be in the jail, but arrangements have now been made to keep him taking his medications.

Day’s body was found along Highway JG in the town of Blue Mounds. He had been shot in the back with a rifle, then was slashed several times with a knife, an autopsy found.

Police have found no connection between Berg and Day. A criminal complaint states surveillance video placed Berg’s car in the area where Day’s body was found, and Day’s blood was found in Berg’s car.

Berg’s father, John Berg, told investigators Berg has a history of schizophrenia, court documents state.

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