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Prosecution rests in Prescott homicide trial: Defense to present evidence next week

Rose Marie Kuehni watches testimony Wednesday, Aug. 10, during the opening day of her homicide trial in Pierce County Circuit Court. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Mike Longaecker)

ELLSWORTH -- After three days of testimony from investigators and experts, prosecution rested its case against the Prescott woman accused of killing her boyfriend and hiding his body.

Defense will present its case beginning Monday in the trial of Rose Marie Kuehni, the 45-year-old charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.

On Friday, the jury of nine men and five women heard testimony from Pierce County Sheriff’s Office investigator Douglas Ducklow, who led the investigation. Ducklow read from emails uncovered during the investigation, which prosecution will likely attempt to use in bolstering its argument that Kuehni planned out the Nov. 22, 2015, shooting death of Douglas Bailey at their Prescott home.

Prosecutors say she met on Thanksgiving Day in Illinois with another man -- identified by authorities as Kentucky resident Clarence Hicks -- who took possession of a box containing Bailey’s body and allegedly dumped it off a mountainside in Kentucky.

Hicks appeared under subpoena outside the presence of the jury Wednesday with his attorney. James Duvall, the Buffalo-Pepin County judge presiding over the case, told Assistant Pierce County District Attorney Bill Thorie to describe what he intended to ask the Harrodsburg, Ky., man, who is charged with one count of concealing a corpse as party to a crime.

Thorie said he wanted to know how Hicks met Kuehni, the nature of their relationship and their electronic communications -- including conversations between Nov. 22-26, 2015 -- what arrangements might have been made for him to take the boxes, why he allegedly selected dumping spot and what kind of planning that might have involved.

“He would plead the Fifth and not testify,” attorney Lars Loberg said, referring to the Fifth Amendment.

Thorie said there were no offers of immunity in exchange for Hicks’ testimony.

There is “a real and appreciable apprehension” that his testimony could be used against him, Duvall concluded before releasing Hicks from the trial.

Email exchanges

Emails from as far back as March 2015 between Kuehni and Hicks allegedly outlined their secret romance. The emails, presented by prosecution, also make reference to frustrations Kuehni had with Bailey. In one from March 2015 read by Ducklow, she describes thinking “of ways to take his life” and how to do so without getting caught.

“Everything leaves a trace,” the letter states.

That letter from Kuehni, however, goes on to say that fear of retribution from people who knew Bailey steered her away from those alleged plans.

A May 2015 email chain from Kuehni to Hicks, however, describes how she’s had a lot on her mind. After Hicks asks what that is, she responds, “I can do what needs to be done … just not sure where to put when done.”

On cross examination, defense attorney Mark Gherty suggested the statement was vague and asked Ducklow if he knew what it meant.

“I don’t know,” he responded.

Gherty later noted that the March 2015 email reading was incomplete. He had Ducklow read from an earlier portion of the letter where Kuehni describes a tumultuous, controlling relationship with Bailey.

“I’m being held in chains here,” a portion of that section of the letter states.

Gherty outlined early in pretrial proceedings that he would present a battered-women’s syndrome defense.

Jailhouse interview

Investigators from Illinois testified Wednesday that they became involved in the case when Bailey’s family members filed a missing-persons request because he didn’t show for Thanksgiving there.

But the tactics used by investigators to generate Kuehni’s alleged confession came under fire during cross-examination by Gherty.

He suggested that statements made by Peoria County Sheriff’s Office investigator Dave Hoyle sent mixed messages while speaking to Kuehni. While interviewing her, Hoyle told her that some things are explainable and that “I believe you didn’t have much of a choice and you did the right thing.”

“I only said that to get her to talk,” Hoyle said under cross-examination.

“So you’re lying,” Gherty responded.

“Yeah,” Hoyle replied, later noting that investigators are allowed to lie at times during interrogations in order to gain confessions.

Also at the hearing Wednesday, the jury was shown nearly two hours of the jailhouse interview authorities conducted with Kuehni.

It began with her describing the tumultuous night with Bailey that eventually led up to the fatal shooting, which she outlined in detail to investigators. The video also included an extensive description by Kuehni of the prolonged mental, physical and sexual abuse she allegedly received from Bailey.

In the video, Kuehni tells Prescott police investigator Kris Stewart that on the day of his death, Bailey made a pact with God that he would die in a year so his ailing sister could survive a medical scare. But before he did, Kuehni said in the interview, Bailey was going “to have some fun” and get revenge on people who he thought had wronged him.

“I’m going to start with you and I’m going to finish with you,” she said he told her, adding, “It starts tonight.”

While he made threats to her family after ordering her to the bedroom, she went into her closet to change into a robe “and I saw the shotgun lying behind the clothes,” Kuehni told investigators.

She said he told her to get on her knees, so she fired once and then again after he lunged at her.

Kuehni then described to the investigators how she boxed up Bailey’s remains and took him to Illinois, where she said Hicks took possession of one box containing Bailey and another packed with his belongings.

Gherty said that if Kuehni chooses to testify in the case, she will be the first witness when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday.

Before excusing jurors for the weekend, Duvall them that the case could be in their hands by late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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