RHINELANDER - Exactly one year ago, Joseph and Jillian Buza walked into Marshfield Clinic in Minocqua for an appointment.
In a duffel bag, they had a hatchet, a meat tenderizer, and a revolver, planning to use the weapons to inflict pain on a nurse practitioner trying to wean Jillian off opioids.
On Wednesday, Judge Michael Bloom called their violent act "outrageous" in sentencing Joseph Buza to eight years in prison, the maximum sentence for the crimes.
"The specific intent accompanying this plan was to cause the victim severe pain by chopping her hands and feet," Bloom said. "The acts of the defendant reflect a person of despicable character."
On June 12, 2018, the Buzas, upset they couldn't get a higher dose of opioids for Jillian, went to the Minocqua Center with a bag of weapons.
"It was a one-and-a-half pound hatchet, a meat tenderizer hammer, [and] a loaded .38 special revolver," said Oneida Co. District Attorney Michael Schiek.
In what defense attorney Steven Richards called "a crazy, ludicrous scheme," the Buzas said they planned to hurt the practitioner, then kill themselves in front of her.
In court on Wednesday, Joseph Buza called himself "a foolish old man."
"I was out of my mind," he said. "It was just craziness."
Marshfield Clinic employees forced their way into the exam room as Buza held the weapons to the practitioner's face. Four of those employees made statements on Wednesday.
"How can he call himself a human being?" asked one of the workers.
"The defendant came to hurt. He came to kill," another told Judge Bloom. "Had he not been prevented from carrying out his plan, we would be here for a murder trial."
A third said, "my sleep has been disturbed with nightmares of that day where we're all killed or of my children growing up without their mom."
Buza will spend five and a half years on extended supervision after his eight-year prison sentence.
Jillian Buza died while in custody in December.
In a statement, Marshfield Clinic said it's "pleased" with the maximum sentence and highlighted its safety improvements at the Minocqua Center in the past year.
Story By: Ben Meyer