Thursday, May 14, 2009

Appeal Pending for Mark Jensen In Murder Conviction-UPDATED 5/14

update 5/14-
There has been a little more activity in the Jensen appeal. I am just bumping this post up and will include the activity here:

5/4- Decision made for no action on Delinquincy Motion submitted 4/30.

5/13- Court received Record due 5/18. Case Maintenance- now in briefing

5/14- Attorney change for state, Gregory M. Weber- off,
Marguerite M.Moeller-on, Robert D. Zapf remains.

6/22- Brief and Appx of Appellant due date.

original entry-4/30
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. Jensen's case has come to be known as The Case of the Letter from the Grave .

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.

After years of legal wrangling, the admission of this letter was made possible when the Wisconsin Supreme Court (WSC) ruled such previously inadmissible testimony could be used if a judge determined the defendants' actions prevented the witnesses from testifying. The WSC 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.

Below the current appeal information (enclosed by red astericks) is more information about the basis for this appeal.

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A motion for appeal of Mark Jensen's murder conviction has been entered with the Wisconsin Court of Appeal on April 6. The motion is pending submission of the Statement on Transcript and the Record. Click on these links to read the actual Case Details and the Appeal History on this case at the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Access website.

I will provide a short summary here and a few definitions that this blogger had to look up. ( I have no legal training, just an immense interest. )

Summary of current activity:

The Statement on Transcript (SRT) was due on April 20, 2009.
A Delinquency Motion was submitted on April 30, 2009 by the Unassigned District 2 for the SRT that was due on April 20, 2009.

A motion was Filed/ Granted to extend the submission of NAP/PCM to May 9, 2009.

The anticipated due date for the Record is May 18, 2009.

Definitions:

Record-
All the papers filed with the circuit court including the decision of the circuit court judge. The record is sent to the Court of Appeals after an appeal has been initiated.

Statement on Transcript (SRT)-
A statement filed by an appellant or cross appellant notifying the court of the transcripts ordered for the appeal.

I could not find definitions for NAP/PCM. Here is a link to a glossary at the WSCCA site for more definitions. The glossary is towards the bottom of the page.

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In June of 2008 there was a Supreme Court ruling, Giles vs. California, that may enable Mark Jensen to have his conviction thrown out.

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.

Memorandum of Dying Declaration- this memorandum written by Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to further explain his decision to admit Julie Jensen's letter as her Dying Declaration.

Katfishponders has done several entries on Mark Jensens case, you can find them here .
CNN Sphere: Related Content

21 comments:

  1. Katfish,

    Thanks for the update! I watched every bit of that trial, and typed a lot of coverage. I think Judge Schroeder has to be one of my all-time favorites.

    I'm hoping the brief he wrote about the "dying declaration" holds up.

    Mark Jensen is where he belongs.

    ritanita

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  2. Hi Ritanita!
    We are on the same page about well...everything that you said in your comment! LOL
    Schroeder is a no nonsense, by the book judge. I found his love of history and the constitution facinating.
    I'm trying to keep an eye on this case. I saw today there was no action taken on the delinquency motion.
    IMO Mark Jensen is a diabolical killer and would have been convicted even without Julie's letter. If she had only written the letter he might have a case but she made sure that others knew her fears, police, neighbors, son's teacher, Mark's sister.

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  3. I watched that trial too. He sooooooo needs to stay where he is at.

    How about his new wife, she got a hell of a lot more than she bargained for!

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  4. Kelly jensen most likely deserves whatever she gets! IMO, messing around with a married man sets you up for all kinds of karma....and it's not the good kind.

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  5. I just happened upon this site looking for updates on this case online.
    Mark Jensen is right where he belongs. The Jensen's lied for him for the last time. It always worked out in the past it seems, but not this time. Kelly I beleave was just as snowed by Mark as Julie was during the last week of her life. I watched the trial every day it was on. Julie beleaved Mark loved her and was being nice to her. Mark does have the right to appeal his case. That is if he can afford it. The Jensen's ran out of money and they are looking to the public for donations for the appeal. The trial took place in another county because they felt he could not get a fair trial in his own county. After several times seeing the case on prime time tv, just where do they think he could get a fair trial again? His lawyer wanted the court to beleave the witnesses Julie knew-- they were betting those memories wold be gone. Can the Jensen's remember their lies even longer than that? That would be the only intrest in watching the appeal trial. The end result would be the same.

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  6. Patricia,
    I'm glad you found my blog. I agree Mark Jensen is right where he belongs.
    I haven't updated the entry yet, but I noticed today the appeals court allowed the defense motion to extend the briefing from 6/22 to 6/30. We should be hearing soon whether he will be granted a new trial. Check back I'm watching this case closely.
    katfish

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  7. Just watched Court TV again. Low & behold WI vs Jensen trial. I went through Jr. High at Lance and High school w/him at Tremper. I just think to myself "Oh my God, this guy sat right behind me." He didn't fit with the "jocks" or the "heads" but sure tried! He was a liar back then, I just have the most unnerving feeling when i see him in court each time! Every girl I went to school with has to ask herself--What if?

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  8. Anon July 22,
    I so agree....how creepy to think what if? It would unnerve me too....such as what was he thinking sitting behind me? I bumped an older post up to the frontpage today to let readers know they can see the trial again on TruTV. I watched the trial gavel to gavel last year and this case bothers me more than possibly any case I have followed. I think the reason is I am around the same age as Mark and Julie with a Midwest upbringing. MJ is a diabolical killer IMO as well as a creepy pervert. ew! Thanks for commenting. I am following the appeal as it moves through the system if you want to see my other reports on this case just click Mark Jensen under the Labels section on the right of the page.

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  9. Maggie, July 31
    I just finished watching this trial on TruTV and am so happy Mark Jensen was found guilty. I hope he never gets out of jail, much less gets a new trial. He had so many years with his kids that he prevented their mother from having and I feel that he felt he was totally going to get away with it. The expression on his face during the trial was so smug. His new wife is a piece of work herself...to marry someone while having an affair is the ultimate in backstabbing.

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  10. Maggie,
    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.

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  11. Maggie, The divorce of Kelly and Mark Jensen is now final...It was in today's paper (Dec. 27th)...Can't help but wonder where Julie's kids are NOW? They were in Kelly's care...Mark put himself where he is..He murdered Julie to be with Kelly and keep his house,money, and kids..Now he has nothing! Payback's a bitch.

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  12. Anonymous 12/28,
    Thanks for that update! Julie's oldest son might be on his own or away at college, the younger boy I'm not sure. I hope they have opened the doors of communication with Julie's brothers and their families.
    Wouldn't be surprised if Kelly moved on to the next guy long ago, but what a nice gift she gave Mark for Christmas, eh. Mark is right where he deserves to be.

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  13. Kelly was granted a default judgment of divorce from Mark Jensen on 10/09/2009. Here's a link to recorded events of the divorce case.

    http://tinyurl.com/jensendivorce

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  14. Hey Anon Jan 4,
    Thanks for that url! Yes, It sure looks like the dastardly duo have parted ways. Too bad they didn't see fit to allow Julie to live and raise her boys. They could have still been together. This case bothers me like very few that I have followed...so senseless, so demented and so tragic. IMO Mark and Kelly have a lifetime of bad karma coming their way for all of the people they have hurt.

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  15. Well, Julie and Mark's oldest son, David is college age, he is 19 or 20 now so he is out on his own I am sure. Julie and Mark's younger son, Douglas is now I believe 15 or 16 years old. It is unclear whether Kelly kept custody of him or whether he went to live with Mark's parents? Since Julie's parents are deceased, my guess is Douglas if he is not with Kelly anymore either went to live with Mark's parents or one of Mark's siblings. I believe Mark has one brother and one sister. I am not sure how things work in Wisconsin so it depends? From what I understand, I guess when Mark and Kelly were married she adopted Mark's two sons from his marriage to Julie as her own. I guess they called her (Kelly) 'mom' so I guess that she adopted David and Douglas, which means legally if that happened she is his legal parent and would retain custody of him even if her and Mark got divorced. Plus Mark and Kelly also had one son together, Andrew who I believe is now 6 or 7 years old.

    But yeah, what a shock Kelly kicked Mark to the curb. I was the one that posted over on Juror 13 about Kelly kicking Mark to the curb. Kelly I believe filed for divorce in May or June of 2009. So yeah, Mark was in prison a little over a year and she was done. What a shock. I might be a believer in Mark's innocence but Kelly came off as a floozie to me but that is just an opinion. Off to the next guy for her I guess. When Mark was convicted I predicted she would be gone within 6 months to a year to tops and sure enough. It seems that Mark did not contest the divorce either.

    Mark's reply brief was just filed on February 19th and then the state I believe will get to file a reply brief to the reply brief and then I guess it will be decided by the courts. So my guess is it will be several months before the courts make a decision. Might not be until the end of the year that they decide.

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  16. Hey Anon 3/12,

    I might be wrong, but because of your writing style and opinion on Mark's innocence, I think you and I have had some pretty good discussions on this case over at J13. I miss J13. :( Thanks for commenting regardless if that's the case or not!

    Did you see my most recent post on this case? I broke down the State's Reponse to the Appellant's Original Brief. I also linked to the Reply Brief that you mention above. I didn't break it down in a post though...yet. I did include a much of the Original Appellant Brief as I could from the State's Response. For some reason it wasn't published. I will do a post with the reply brief after the state replies to that brief. whew! That's a mouthful.

    I try to check on this case weekly and keep up to speed. Right now I believe the schedule is stayed, a motion pending, and in briefing. I hope the court allows oral argument as requested by both parties.

    Here is a link to my most recent post or click Mark Jensen under "Labels" on the side bar:

    http://katfishponders.blogspot.com/2010/02/mark-jensen-appeal-is-moving-along.html

    Once again thanks for stopping by!

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  17. Hey Katfish, I do remember you now, yes I posted over on J13 as Kadrmas21, I was often pro defense and made many enemies over there. However you were always professional in your postings. We disagreed on the Jensen case but I believe we were always civil to each other? I do not remember any blow ups or anything nasty coming from you. But yes I do miss the discussion on J13, there were some good discussions over there, you at least look at the facts and even if you are on the prosecution side, it is not because you assume a person is guilty because they are a defendant like so many on J13 did. Anyway, my two cents there. I am not sure if we talked about any other cases over there but I know we talked about Mark Jensen several times.

    Looking at the briefs (for some reason at the courts website it will not let you access the defenses opening brief) I looked at the states response brief and the defenses response to the state so I was able to get an overall picture of what the major issues are in the appeal: The biggest issue of course is the letter. I have VERY strong feelings that that letter should have never been allowed into evidence.

    Now, I am not sure if the Wisconsin State Courts will overturn one of their own or not on that decision but it seemed Judge Schrader illegally pre-determined Mark Jensen's guilt when he said something to the effect of that the letter was allowed to be admitted into evidence because Mark prevented Julie from testifying. He did not actually say he killed her, but he might as well have because that is basically what Schrader was saying.

    Looking at the Giles decision, if the courts actually follow it properly, then Mark will get a new trial. If the courts determine that the letter should not have been allowed in, than that would not be harmless error as that is a big part of the reason Mark was convicted. It was not the only reason he was but it played a big part in his conviction by the jurors own admissions.

    Basically, I think without it, there would have at least been a hung jury, so the error is not harmless. It is only harmless error if there is not a reasonable chance that had something not been admitted that it would not have had any effect on the outcome of the trial. Basically when a court or when the state says something is harmless error, they say 'well, it was error, as in it should not have been admitted but you would have been convicted anyway even if the evidence had not been entered, thus no harm no foul'.

    So yeah, the letter is the big one. I mean originally Schrader did interpret the law correctly and ruled that the letter was inadmissible as evidence. The state appealed it and the Wisconsin Supreme Court in my opinion illegally ordered it entered into evidence. I am sure Schrader wanted it entered into evidence the whole time as he thought Mark was guilty from the start. However in 2004 when this issue first came up he ruled correctly. However the Wisconsin Supreme Court illegally re-wrote constitutional law and said that oh, well that can be admitted if the defendant caused the witness to not be there to testify. The problem with this reasoning is that in order to judge that you would have to pre-determine a defendant's guilt in an official proceeding which is also illegal.

    So yeah, I think at some point Mark will get a new trial if not from the state courts then from the federal courts. Basically the letter should never have been admitted because it violated Mark's confrontation clause rights under the Constitution. Now, the other big part that falls under the umbrella on that issue is whether the hearsay testimony of the police officer, the neighbors and the teacher all of whom claimed Julie Jensen had said Mark was either poisoning her or was trying to poison her are admissible?

    I will continue with part 2 of this analysis a bit later.

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  18. Okay Part 2. Now, while Jensen will argue confrontation clause rights were violated in regards to the hearsay testimony that the one Pleasant Prairie Police Officer, the neighbors of the Jensen's and that the teacher gave, those will be harder to throw out. Not impossible to throw out but they will be harder to throw out. I always found the Police Officer in particular his testimony was just bizarre. This is a guy who was a police officer, a woman tells him she is afraid she is either currently or is going to be poisoned by her husband yet he does exactly nothing? Bizarre.

    As for Ed Klug, the guy kind of came off as a sleaze to me, I mean he himself admitted to 'joking' about poisoning his wife with Mark Jensen. Plus Klug waited 8 or 9 years after the conversation took place before he reported it. This was 4 or 5 years after Jensen's arrest although Jensen was free on bond for 5 years after his arrest. It was not until after Jensen's bail was dramatically hiked up in the summer of 2007 that Klug came forward. However Klug's testimony would be allowed back in at a re-trial I think even though I did not find Klug particularly credible.

    The jailhouse snitches, ughh, these guys, I do not think the jury found any of them credible and I really felt Robert Jambois was really stooping low in offering these guys plea deals and favors in exchange for their testimony. Aaron Dillard who had a very lengthy track record of criminal activity in several states and even in other countries, he was facing a 12 year sentence, after throwing Mark Jensen overboard, Dillard suddenly gets probation! The other three guys that testified against Jensen also got special deals, sentence reductions, reduced charges, things like that.

    There is still circumstantial evidence against Jensen but without that letter that would really take a bite out of the prosecution's case, a huge chunk. Like I said, I do not think Jensen would have been acquitted without the letter but I also do not think he would have been convicted either. I think he would have had a hung jury. I mean the prosecution would still have the computer evidence, and would also have the video of that 1999 interrogation where Mark was interrogated for several hours and where Mark's demeanor in that tape did not exactly help his cause. The same was true at trial. I do not think Mark was convicted because of his demeanor but it certainly did not help him. I mean the way he acted, he acted like he was at a business conference or something. Smirking at times. It was also interesting how much he looks like Kevin Bacon.

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  19. Now, looking at Jensen's defense, clearly everyone agrees that Julie Jensen died of poisoning by way of anti freeze, no one questions that. The only question is, how did the anti freeze get in her system? Of course not surprisingly, Mark's defense is that Julie poisoned herself although his defense takes an odd twist. Mark I guess himself personally claims Julie was not intentionally trying to kill herself but was rather trying to poison herself, to make herself sick, and then point the finger at Mark and so he would be charged with attempted murder and she would get the house and get custody of the kids and he would be in prison. He claims she did this because she was afraid of losing custody of their kids in a divorce hearing due to her being a basket case.

    Now, looking at the issue, it is very obvious that this was a troubled marriage no matter who or what you believe in regards to the poisoning. Now, looking at Julie's letter, the very thing that the jury found so impressive I actually found troubling, disturbing and at several points wildly contradictory. I mean at several points Julie talks about alcohol and how Mark 'pressured' her to consume alcohol and then she goes further and says she 'never' drinks yet a few sentences later, she talks about how she drinks on a semi regular basis.

    The big thing with Mark's defense and I think what would have made more sense, is argue that Julie did not really intend to kill herself but did it by accident. That she was trying to poison herself to make Mark look bad so she would have a leg up in getting property and the children in the divorce that she knew was bound to happen. Craig Albee while I think he did an overall very good job of defending Mark, the one big mistake he made was arguing that this was a suicide. I mean it cannot be disproven that this was a suicide but to argue that someone would kill themselves so slowly and methodically by way of poison and in particular a slow acting poison like anti freeze is, that is really reaching. Now granted none of this proves murder, but when Craig Albee argues that Julie killed herself, that makes a jury view only two possibilities, either that Julie intentionally killed herself or that Mark killed her.

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  20. Looking at the poison, at that time, it was easy to poison people with anti freeze. In fact it has only been in the last 3 or 4 years that the taste of anti freeze has been changed. It is because before that anti freeze had a very sweet taste to it, thus you could put it in sweet tasting foods like jello or beverages like soda, sweet tea, juice and the person you were poisoning would have no idea they were being poisoned. This is because the person would not be able to distinguish the taste.

    In fact, the Jensen case was NOT why the taste was changed. In fact, the reason the taste was changed was as a result of the case of Lynn Turner. Who poisoned her husband Glenn with anti freeze in 1995. He died and the cause of death was ruled natural causes. So she got away with it, at least in the short term. In 2001, she poisoned her boyfriend Randy Thompson also with anti freeze. She ultimately was convicted of two counts of murder and was sentenced to two life sentences. Another guy, James Keown in Massachusetts was convicted a couple years ago of poisoning his wife with anti freeze that he put in her Gatorade. So that is why the formula was changed, because so many people were using it as a poison because it was easy to give to people without them knowing it.

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  21. Kadrmas21,
    Hello! I remember the Lynn Turner case....what a B! I'm glad the formula has been changed to make the taste more detectable in antifreeze. Do you remember the ME tasting antifreeze on the stand during the Jensen trial to demonstrate the taste was sweet? I just about fell out of my chair! LOL! Of course she spit it out.
    I respect your right to your opinions about the Jensen case but still disagree. The clincher for me remains the computer searches done and double deleted on the morning Julie died. Mark himself told LE that she was so sick he had to prop her up in bed so the boys could say goodbye that morning....I just don't believe it would be possible for her to get out of bed do the searches double delete them, climb back in bed and die. I saw Mark's parents on the 48 hours episode about this case, they too said they thought Julie didn't mean to kill herself just set Mark up. I would believe that theory before suicide, but regardless of her intentions, she would have been too sick that morning to do the computer searches...she was dying...no ifs ands or buts.

    I know you don't believe Ed klug but even Mark's Dad conceded they had the discussion while drinking....I believe he said you can't put credence to anything someone says while drinking. I think the reason he(Dad) conceded to the conversation was because Klug told other people about the conversation the next day. I truely believe if Klug hadn't told others immediately after his testimony wouldn't have been credible...actually the only reason he testified was because someone else told the state he had told them about the conversation...Klug did not want to be involved...no doubt he is the kind of guy that would walk past someone being assaulted on the street without assisting...it is what it is.

    Um let's see what else??? I agree this appeal may make it to the Supreme Court if Mark doesn't win a new trial before then. This is a constitutional issue that needs to be resolved. We are dealing with a similar issue here in IL with the Drew Peterson case. There was just a month long forfeiture hearing in that case...but the judge won't disclose his decision until the time of trial so as not to taint the jury pool.
    Let's move any discussion about the appeal up to the entry with the State' response for convenience. ok? Thanks! here is a link to that post:

    http://katfishponders.blogspot.com/2010/02/mark-jensen-appeal-is-moving-along.html

    Thanks! Kat
    ps. Anyone who wants in on the discussion hop in...differing opinions are welcome as long as respectful of other's right to their opinions.

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