CHIPPEWA COUNTY Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The passenger in Colten Treu’s truck when he hit and killed three girl scouts and a parent in November 2018 has been released. John Stender was sentenced last September to three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
After just over 11 months behind bars, he’ll spend the rest of his six-year sentence on extended supervision. The Department of Corrections website shows he served part of his time in the Dodge Correctional Institute before being moved to a supervised living facility.
In a letter to Chippewa County judge James Isaacson, the deputy warden of the Chippewa Valley Correction Treatment Facility says Stender completed the Wisconsin earned release program and asked that he spend the rest of his sentence on extended supervision.
Judge Isaacson signed off on it Monday and Stender was released. Stender was convicted of harboring or aiding a felon and intentionally abusing a hazardous substance, after pleading no contest in April of last year.
Treu and Stender were huffing a can of air duster before losing control of their vehicle, crashing into the four victims. Stender told authorities that he grabbed the steering wheel to avoid going into the ditch. The two men then left the scene.
As for Stender’s release yesterday, his attorney says his client’s fight to turn his life around before he went to prison likely made him a good candidate for the earned release program in the eyes of DOC.
“He wanted to be in the program. I knew from my discussions with him that the program was certainly an option to him. The reality is that he showed an attitude that I would describe as being very serious about this and wanting to be able to make amends. If the program would benefit him, he was all for it.”
We reached out to Brian Kelley, whose daughter Jayna was killed in the crash. He declined to go on camera but said in an email in part– quote:
“It is upsetting that this individual is allowed to go on with his normal life, despite a 3-year sentence.”
“We had been advised by our District Attorney’s office that Wisconsin is a “truth in sentencing” state and therefore Mr. Stender would serve a full 3 years in prison.” “My hope is that he makes something of his life.”