Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will Mark Jensen Get A New Trial? The Case of The Letter From The Grave

Today InSession on TruTV showed the verdict and sentencing of Mark Jensen for the murder of Julie Jensen. We knew that the verdict was guilty and he was sentenced to Life without Parole. I still found it very compelling to watch this all unfold again. Like I say in my introduction to my blog, criminal trials show the very best and the very worst of mankind, IMO this case exemplifies that.

A couple of the key players in this trial called into the coverage on InSession today which I found very interesting. Special prosecutor Robert Jambois called into "Courtside" with Jack Ford and the jury foreperson called into "The Best Defense" with Jamie Floyd. Unfortunately, I missed "Open Court" with Ashley Banfield so I can't tell you any updates from that show.

Robert Jambois pointed out that his co-counsel Angelina Gabrielle had a very strong role in developing the state's case, much more so than accredited in the media. So kudos to Ms. Gabrielle as well! One thing that I found most interesting about Mr. Jambois comments was that in this day and age a conviction by a jury is only a step in the process of a case, particularly this case. Jambois fully expects this case to go through the State of appeals court, The Wisconsin Supreme Court and eventually the US Supreme Court.

The jury foreman who called into "The Best Defense" didn't have a lot to say, but he did reconfirm that this jury took their jobs very seriously and they painstakingly came to a verdict they all could live with. I must say I have never heard of a jury as thorough and dedicated as this one...they came to court through horrific Winter weather for almost 8 weeks. When it came time for deliberation, they deliberated for 3 days, but in those 3 days they deliberated some 36 hours (until almost midnight the first day) and asked for over 80 items of evidence to review.

In closing, When I followed my link here to the WSCCA to check on the appeal in this case, the link didn't work. Did we burn it out ? hehe.. I have corrected the link, so if you previously had problems it should work now. What I found was that the attorney for Jensen, Christopher Rose, filed a Motion Response July 23 to the state's Motion Response to his Petition To Bypass. The state's Briefing is still pending and due July 30. This is going to be a long process. Katfishponders will continue to follow the appeal and update what is found. I have heard several defense attorney's say they think the conviction will be overturned on case law....we'll have to wait and see. In the mean time all the best to Julie Jensen's loved ones, and a sincere wish that you do not have to go through another trial.


I'm bumping this article up because TruTV is re-airing their coverage of this trial. If you have a chance to catch any of it, I recommend it. Of course they will condense the coverage this time around but I would think it will still last a week or two as the original trial lasted for over a month.This case included some fine examples of advocacy by both the state and the defense. Craig Albee is actually one of the finest defense lawyers I have seen in all of the trials that I have watched. If I were accused of a crime (not likely) this is the guy I would want.

To see the complete coverage of this case on Katfishponders
click here.

I also wanted to give an update on the progress of the appeal in this case. As of this writing the case is in briefing, the Appellant (Defendant) have filed their briefs and the Respondent (Plaintiff) are expected to file their briefs (legal arguments) by July 30. Attorney for Jensen, Christopher Rose, filed a Petition to Bypass on July 7, and the attorney for the state, Marguerite Moeller, filed a Motion Response the same day. The case is On Hold while the Motion and Petition are pending.

For those who (like me) aren't legal eagles, a Petition to Bypass is a document filed with the Supreme Court during the pendency of an appeal in the Court of Appeals asking the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction of the appeal prior to the issuance of a decision by the Court of Appeals.

Katfishponders will continue to monitor the appeal and keep you posted as it progresses.

UPDATE 1/12/2009
I have done some extra digging and found this information at the Wisconsin Court of Appeals website:
Summary of Appeal- This shows the status of the case as closed.

Case History- This shows an Attorney Change on 10/16/2008.
Also shows that on 12/22/2008 the time for filing transcripts
in this case is extended to 1/19/2009.
UPDATE 4/08/2009
Memorandum of Dying Declaration-
I came across this memorandum written by Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to further explain his decision to admit Julie Jensen's letter as her Dying Declaration.

Mark Jensen is a Kenosha WI. man who sits in jail, facing life in prison with no chance for parole. Jensen, 48 was found guilty on February 21, 2008 for the 1998 poisoning death of his wife Julie Jensen, 40. Prosecutors alleged that Jensen was having an affair and poisoned his wife so he could be free of her. The defense says Julie Jensen was despondent about the affair, killed herself and tried to frame her husband.

This trial was notable for many reasons, the length of time it took to bring this case to trial, the excellent representation by both the prosecution and the defense, the dramatic evidence of his-and-hers flings, X-rated e-mail exchanges and Internet searches for poisons. Prosecutors also presented testimony from a co-worker of Mark Jensen who said Jensen had told him he was looking on the Internet for poisons to kill his wife and from a jailhouse snitch who said Jensen had made incriminating remarks behind bars. The drama lasted up to the final moment of testimony, when a prosecution forensics expert dipped her fingers into a Styrofoam cup of antifreeze, tasted it and described the flavor as "sweet."

A few weeks before her death, Julie Jensen had given a neighbor a letter pointing an accusing finger at her husband should anything happen to her. She also made foreboding comments to police and to her son's teacher, saying she suspected that her husband was trying to kill her. The letter, read aloud in court, said in part: "I pray I'm wrong + nothing happens ... but I am suspicious of Mark's suspicious behaviors + fear for my early demise," the letter says. " Click here to read the letter.

Legal wrangling over the letter and Julie Jensen's statements delayed the trial for years.
Using such evidence in court has for years been blocked by strict hearsay rules giving criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers. In March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1980 case, Crawford vs. Washington, that laid out complex rules for when statements can be used without the opportunity for cross-examination. The court said the case complicated a part of the Constitution (sixth amendment) that guarantees a criminal defendant the right to confront his accusers.

Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder then ruled the letter and voice mails to police were inadmissible, but testimony of the neighbor and teacher could be allowed. Prosecutors appealed and the case went to the state Supreme Court, which said such previously inadmissible testimony could be used if a judge determined the defendants' actions prevented the witnesses from testifying. The Wisconsin Supreme Court based its decision on the "doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing." Essentially, it said that Mark Jensen forfeited his Constitutional right to face his accuser, because his alleged actions (murdering his wife) made it impossible for her to appear in court. Judge Schroeder decided it was reasonable to believe that Mark Jensen's actions prevented his wife from testifying.

For years, authorities said Julie Jensen had died of multiple doses of ethylene glycol, commonly used as antifreeze. But testimony during the trial also indicated that she might have been smothered with her pillow. Inmate Aaron Dilliard, an admitted con man, testified that Mark Jensen indicated to him that he suffocated his wife when the poison did not appear to be working fast enough. Dillard testified that Jensen said he sat on Julie's back and pushed her face into the pillow. Crime scene photos show Julie's nose and mouth pushed to the left side. Her face was found deep in the pillow, according to testimony.

Another inmate, bank robber David Thompson, testified that Jensen told him last year that he killed his wife and asked him to help kidnap and "sit on" a witness until after the trial. The conversation was overheard by a third inmate, Bernard Bush. Bush said he heard a total figure of $100,000 being discussed, with $50,000 up front and $50,000 at the completion of the abduction. The would-be target was Ed Klug, Jensen's former co-worker.

Ed Klug was an investment broker who worked under Mark Jensen. He said that a month after they met, they drank together at a work conference and complained about their wives. Mark Jensen said he wanted to poison his wife and he went to Web sites that featured hard-to-trace poisons. Klug told his wife and several co-workers. One co-worker told another co-worker who went to authorities, who contacted him this year. Klug said he didn't come forward nine years sooner because he was afraid for his job since Mark Jensen was his boss.

Prosecutor Robert Jambois called experts who say they found evidence of suffocation. The defense experts disagreed. Defense attorney Craig Albee called his own poison expert to say Julie Jensen could have taken repeated doses of poison herself, contradicting the prosecution's poison expert and called mental health experts as well. Mark Jensen did not take the stand.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for 32 hours over a three day period before reaching a guilty verdict. After the verdict, jurors told reporters that the letter gave them "a clear road map" to conviction, as one female juror phrased it. Another female juror said he believed Mark Jensen was trying to push his wife over the edge. "He tortured Julie hoping she could be classically diagnosed as a nutcase," she said.

Through out all of this trial, Julie Jensen's four brothers attended court everyday in support of their sister. They also constructed a web site called . The website is a wonderful tribute to their sister and the woman that she was. They have also made a timeline of this case that is invaluable to those who might be interested in this case and provided a lot of information about domestic abuse and poisoning. Just click on the link above to go there.

In all fairness, Mark Jensen's family also supported him. His parents, his current wife (the woman he was having the affair with ten years ago) and Mark and Julie's two sons. They too have developed a web site in support of Mark, which I will not link to because I feel he is guilty.
Here is a message they posted on the site:

We are appealing for a new trial. Mark is broke and cannot pay for a new trial. His attorney is asking for $40,000 for past trial expenses. Mark sold his paid-for home of $240,000, liquidated his IRA, his 401k, his stock portfolio, and savings to pay for this trial. His attorney got it all. The attorney will not defend an appeal unless more funds are forthcoming.

In June of 2008 there was another Supreme Court ruling, Giles vs. California, that may enable Mark Jensen to have his conviction thrown out.The Supreme Court ruled that defendants must be able to cross-examine the person who is accusing them of a crime even in cases where the defendant killed that person. That means the letter Julie wrote to police, in which she said Mark was trying to kill her, and her statements to friends about the same thing, could not be used as evidence in court.

This ruling does not guarantee Mark Jensen’s freedom, or even a new trial. The judge in his case ruled that Julie’s letter and statements were a dying declaration, evidence of her state of mind at the time of her death. The state appeals court is reviewing that. If they rule the statements were a dying declaration, the Supreme Court decision will not apply and Mark will remain in prison. Otherwise, he might become a free man.


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  1. Katfish! Thank you so much for posting an update on this case! T&T watched in total fascination how this case played out. I'll be very interested in hearing what the ruling is from the state appeals court.

  2. I will keep an eye out for the outcome of this appeal!
    This case strongly affected me. I don't know if it's because Julie and I were close in age and have a similar Midwestern upbringing, or just because she was killed with such deliberate planning and cruelty. This case contrasted with Bobby Cutt's (Ohio murder case resolved the same week as Mark Jensen's)conviction changed my opinion about the death penalty for several reasons.

    I strongly recommend to everyone to visit, particularly the timeline. The timeline is very thorough and really explains some of the remarks made by jurors that I mentioned in my entry. You can see how creepy this guy really is.....I'll be honest there is some evidence I just couldn't bring myself to report.
    The whole site is worth the time to visit and the music Julie's brothers created in her honor is beautiful.

  3. Katfish, thanks for catching us up on this case. I recently re-watched parts of the trial on In Session and am still very pleased with what the jury members had to say.

    While it was clear that the letter had an effect on their decision, they also cited many other reasons for finding Jensen guilty.

    Judge Schroeder did an amazing job with his explanation of the letter as a dying declaration. I fervently hope the Appellate Court agrees with him.

    And yet, Sprocket, that was quite the trial!

  4. I just read over at Juror13 where someone posted that Kelly Jensen filed for a divorce from Mark in May of this year. I have no personal confirmation of that....just what someone posted.

  5. I really cannot see how you believe (1) this was a fair trial (2) If it was a dying decleration then suicide is just as likely as homicide (3) If Shroeder admitted the letter because Mark caused her to not be able to respond in court that is the same as guilty until proven innocent since the Judge had to ASSUME Mark was already guilty instead of innocent UNTIL UNTIL UNTIL proven guilty... Just some thoughts and devils advocate some. Like your site... TY

  6. Oh Yeah, just another peave at sentancing THEIR SONS, not just Marks kids, asked for leniency but all the judge did was listen to her four brothers (who just thinks its IMPOSSIBLE, IMPOSSIBLE she commited suicide BUT BUT BUT one of her four brothers trioed to commit suicide, theirs a LARGE mental familial history with all her family and her mom was a severe alcoholic who collapsed IN ACUTE ALCOHOL WITHDRAWL at there WEDDING...... Come on.... I was a nurse for 13 years... This case smells bad to me and will be overturned instead of sent back to the Circuit Court probably just to mess with Schroeder...

    1. Just watched this again on 48 hours come on with the letter every T was crossed and i doted to set up this guy . too pat who runs around telling strangers and neighbors that my husband is trying to kill me but not the police or her family .

      staying with him ,drinking what he gave her , yea right she really thought he was trying to poison her its silly .

      Of course they should have considered her family's mental history . i think set up all the way hope he gets a new trial.

    2. Anon 4/3
      Mark Jensen has already lost his first appeal at the Appellate level. Following the failed appeal, the WI Supreme Court declined to consider the case. Next stop for this case is the US Supreme Court. If Mark Jensen's conviction were to be overturned by the US Supremes it most likely would be because of case law and evidence admitted (letter, for example). A jury has already decided that Mark killed Julie based on the facts of this case as they heard them. Thanks 4 sharing your opinion.

  7. Hey Starzman,

    Thanks for your thoughtful are a few of my thoughts on this case...
    Mark Jensen may end up with a new trial, that remains to be seen. His appellate attorney has filed for a motion to bypass the Wisconsin Court of Appeals directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The motion has been denied for now as it is premature, but can be refiled after the state files their briefs. According to a few defense attorneys I have spoken with, they think Jensen will receive a new trial based on case law. Giles may win him a new trial, but it doesn't mean he will be acquitted.

    I don't think that Mark was convicted solely on the letter that Julie wrote. IMO, the internet searches are what cooked Mark's goose. When you consider the fact that the day of Julie's death there were 4 Ambien (sleeping pills) missing from the prescription Mark had filled less than 24 hours earlier, and she was dying of Ethylene Glycol poisoning as those searches were done and then double deleted, IMO that makes it clear it was Mark who was doing those poison was Mark, after all, who had everything to gain.

    I watched the original trial gavel to gavel online and formed my opinion based on that. I had no bias towards or against Mark Jensen, but was convinced by the evidence. The clincher for me was that Julie would not have been physically able to get on the computer and do those searches the day she died, that just convinced me beyond any doubt that Julie didn't commit suicide. Of course that in itself doesn't mean Mark killed her, but in my mind plenty of other evidence did. Mark's own words (I believe Ed Klug's testimony), the day planner, the post it note, the computer searches, the e-mails, the systematic torture of Julie with the pictures over the years.....there is more but it's late.

    I watched most of the trial when InSession showed it again in 2009 and didn't change my opinion.

    I'm not really sure I understand how you conclude that because Julie's mom was an alcoholic and her brother made a weak attempt at suicide when he was 16 she HAD to have killed herself. Do you have personal knowledge that there was a large familial history of mental illness? Even if you do, how does that really prove she committed suicide?

    I understand what you say about the presumption of innocence being undermined by the forfeiture hearing. My thoughts on that are that Judge Schroeder was following the Supreme Court's ruling. He had to find one way or the other, and he felt the preponderance of evidence pointed to guilt. This case may well end up before the US Supreme Court before this is all said and done over that issue. If Jensen gets a new trial based on that, fine. I still feel there is a good chance he would be convicted again. As I said, just my opinion, I respect your right to yours.


    PS. I do understand your "peave" at the sentencing, The boys asked for leniency as Mark's sons, but as Julie's sons they were also the victims(as were Julie's brothers) and their feelings deserved to be heavily weighed. I had the impression it was the judge's desire to punish Mark, not that he only listened to the brothers. Think about it for a moment assuming Mark's guilt(for the sake of discussion only, I don't expect you to change your opinion) this was a planned deliberate crime that caused great suffering for Julie, the boys and her family, that was likely Schroeder's basis for the LWOP sentence.

    You are welcome to voice your opinions here anytime. Be sure to check back, I will be closely following the appeal. On the right side of this page is a section called "Labels" if you click on Mark Jensen all entries tagged with his name will come up starting with the most recent. :)

  8. TYVM and I as will will follow..... Still very interesting. On the mental health issues I feel strongly on hereditartial links within familial lines carrying different mental ailments. It was just one of the things that leaned me to Julie's suicide and setup. The most overwhelming critic of Julie committing suicide was her youngest brother which was the one that stated that he did mean to kill himself i belive at 16.


  9. OK, so we can agree to disagree. :)

  10. Today I saw program on CI channel and I think that Mark Jensen is wrongfully convicted. (no offence)
    if you analyze the script notes which are presummed to be written by Mark and julie letter, there is some similarity that is " S ". The style of S written in both papers is the same. Handwriting expert can chalk out the difference easily and tell the truth. But S seems to be same as written in murder letter and looks like it has framed mark for a crime he never commited.

  11. anon June30 @ 1:29 am,
    No offense taken...we are all entitled to our own opinions. At least you state a basis for your opinion. This case was litigated for 10 years before making it to trial. Mark Jensen had an awesome defense attorney who fought tooth and nail for his client. Your thoughts are exactly what Jensen hoped the jury would believe (frame job) but I have no doubt if the defense could have produced a handwriting expert who would say Julie's letter and Mark's note in his day planner were written by the same hand they would have. Mark has already lost his appeals as far as he can go in WI, the WI Court of appeal was very clear that there was a LARGE amount of evidence to convict Jensen without the letter. The Supreme Court of WI upheld the appeltate court's decision w/o hearing the case. Last stop US Supreme Court. Frankly if they are willing to consider the case it most likely related to caselaw...not Mark Jensen being wrongly convicted. I have covered it all here. If you go to labels on right of page and click "Mark Jensen" all coverage of this case that I have done will come up starting with the most recent. Thanks for sharing your opinion. katfish

  12. he is guity and should never get out. he had a sweet wife and she was good to him

  13. If this case gets overturned someone needs to follow this creep to the gates of hell and push him!!!!

  14. I will gladly push him