KENOSHA, Wis. — A judge reinstated the conviction of a Wisconsin man just weeks away from a retrial in the 1998 fatal poisoning of his wife.
Mark Jensen, 57, was likely to be convicted again because the same evidence would be used for a second trial, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Chad Kerkman said Friday, making a lengthy trial a questionable use of resources.
Jensen’s attorneys said they would appeal to federal court.
Kerkman’s ruling was the latest twist in a long-running case that began when Julie Jensen’s body was found in 1998 in the Pleasant Prairie home she shared with her husband and their two sons.
Her death was initially considered a suicide, and it took more than nine years for the case to go to trial. Mark Jensen’s attorneys argued Julie Jensen was depressed and killed herself after framing her husband. Prosecutors said Jensen killed his wife with antifreeze in order to be with his mistress and that he searched the internet for ways to make her death look like a suicide.
Jensen was eventually convicted in 2008, on evidence that included a letter Julie Jensen wrote before her death suggesting that if she died her husband might be responsible.
A federal district judge, in overturning the conviction in 2013, said statements and a letter Jensen wrote before her death were an “unrebuttable and emotionally compelling accusation of guilt” that should not have been allowed at trial.
The state appealed that ruling, but a federal appeals court agreed with the district judge, setting the case for a retrial that was to begin Sept. 25.
Kerkman had ruled last month that Julie Jensen’s letter could be used at retrial. With that evidence admitted, Kerkman on Friday said the trial would not be substantially different than the original one, the Kenosha News reported . He granted the prosecution’s motion to simply reinstate the conviction.
“This trial is expected to be very long, six or seven weeks,” Kerkman said, questioning the substantial use of judicial resources. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if the evidence is going to be the same.”
Jensen’s attorney Deja Vishny said she would appeal to the same federal court that overturned his conviction.
“We are going to continue to fight this case,” Vishny said. “Mr. Jensen is fighting for justice and to clear his name. He is innocent, and we will get him into court and free him as soon as possible.”
Kerkman said the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court “can do what they will.”
Special prosecutor Robert Jambois declined to comment on Kerkman’s ruling due to the likely appeal.
Information from: Kenosha News, http://www.kenoshanews.com