Trial postponed in officer shooting

Forensic psychologist unavailable to testify
Warren Bluhm
News Editor

A jury trial was postponed for the woman charged with shooting an Oconto Falls police officer, after expert witnesses said they would be unable to appear on the original schedule.

The trial had been set for Sept. 21-27 for Alisha M. Kocken, 31, of Oconto Falls. After a telephone conference Sept. 11, Oconto County Judge Michael Judge placed the case on the calendar for Dec. 18-22.

Kocken pleaded no contest Aug. 25 to charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, resisting an officer with a dangerous weapon with the result of substantial bodily harm, battery to a law enforcement officer and disarming a peace officer, in connection with an incident that occurred Aug. 6, 2021. That is the day Oconto Falls Police Officer Nicole Blaskowski was shot and wounded during a struggle at Kocken’s apartment complex.

In addition to the no contest pleas, Kocken has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect.

In most cases, such a plea sets up a two-part jury trial, the first to determine the defendant’s guilt and, if convicted, the second part to determine her mental condition at the time. Kocken’s no-contest pleas sent the case directly to the second phase.

The schedule turned on the availability of Dr. Deborah Collins, a forensic psychologist. During what would have been the final pre-trial conference Sept. 8, defense attorney John Miller Carroll said it appeared Collins could not be available to present her testimony in person on Sept. 21, a Thursday, or Sept. 22.

“I have other witnesses that could testify, but procedurally it would make sense for her to testify first,” Carroll said.

In the event Collins instead testified Sept. 25, special prosecutors Norman Gahn and Mark Williams of the state Department of Justice said they doubted they could present their own case before the time scheduled for the trial runs out Sept. 27.

“It would be very, very difficult for us to put our case on that week,” Gahn said. “It may be possible if for sure Dr. Collins can testify the week before.”

The state has at least 10 witnesses, recordings they plan to play for the jury and other exhibits, Gahn said.

Judge then scheduled the Sept. 11 telephone conference to reschedule the trial and told the attorneys to bring information about their experts’ availability to that call, “so we don’t just schedule dates like we have in the past and then the experts tell us they can’t be here. That doesn’t work.”

Defense experts will present their testimony the afternoon of Dec. 18, continuing the next day, and prosecutors will have the next three days to present their rebuttal case.

The Sept. 8 conference was delayed for about an hour. Attorneys for the state and defense met with Judge in chambers, then spent some time in discussion and negotiations over what Williams described as an offer to resolve the case. The offer was withdrawn after Kocken rejected it, Williams said.