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Wisconsin man convicted of poisoning his spouse 20 years after she was discovered lifeless in her dwelling


Julie Jensen was discovered lifeless in her Wisconsin bed room practically 25 years in the past, her physique poisoned by the first ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol.

The trouble to prosecute Jensen’s killer — her husband of 14 years — took nearly as lengthy, with protracted courtroom battles over a key piece of proof, two trials and one overturned conviction.

Earlier this yr, Mark Jensen was sentenced — once more — to life in jail within the killing. 

Listed below are 4 key moments from the authorized saga, as informed by the prosecutors.

For extra on Julie Jensen’s loss of life, watch “Secrets and techniques in Nice Prairie” on “Dateline” at 10 ET/9 CT tonight.

Dec. 3, 1998: Julie Jensen is discovered lifeless

Mark Jensen, 63, known as 911 and stated he’d found the physique of his 40-year-old spouse at their dwelling in Nice Prairie, Wisconsin, simply south of Kenosha. She was in mattress, beneath the covers, sporting a T-shirt and underwear. She had no apparent accidents, Bob Jambois, then the Kenosha County district legal professional, informed NBC’s “Dateline.”

A deputy health worker on the scene initially believed the loss of life was as a consequence of pure causes, Jambois stated. However to the county’s prime prosecutor, a sequence of suspicious particulars stood out: Julie’s place on the mattress appeared unnatural — she appeared to have been rolled onto her aspect — and though she was so sick she’d complained of respiratory issues, her husband had left her alone that day.

A detective briefed Jambois on one other startling element: Julie had been focused for years by an nameless stalker, with hang-up telephone calls and a barrage of pornographic photographs.

She believed the wrongdoer is likely to be a person with whom she’d had a quick affair, Jambois stated. Authorities had their very own suspicions about who was behind the harassment, however it might be years earlier than they supplied proof in a courtroom.

Within the meantime, Jambois discovered of one other clue that might develop into an important a part of the case he was constructing — a letter from Julie that appeared to foretell her personal loss of life.

She addressed the word to the native police division and included a photograph of an ominous record she had present in her husband’s planner. She informed a prosecutor that she was afraid her husband was utilizing the record to chronicle her habits to make it seem like she was dropping her thoughts, the prosecutor, Angelina Gabriele, informed “Dateline.”

Then, in late November, days earlier than Julie was discovered lifeless, she positioned every little thing inside an envelope and gave it to a neighbor. Based on a photograph of the word obtained by “Dateline,” she stated her husband was performing suspiciously and she or he feared her “early demise.”

“If something occurs to me, he can be my first suspect,” she wrote, including that she prayed she was fallacious however he’d by no means forgiven her for the affair.

Julie Jensen.Courtesy photograph

“I might by no means take my life due to my children — they’re every little thing to me!” she wrote.  

When a detective confronted Mark with the letter the next April, asking why his spouse would have written it, Mark stated she was “off the wall” and he was involved she would hurt herself, in accordance with a transcript of the interview obtained by “Dateline.”

“How did she cease respiratory, Mark?” a detective requested at one level. 

“I don’t know,” Mark responded. “I actually don’t know.” 

March 19, 2002: Mark Jensen charged with first-degree intentional murder 

The cost had taken years to file, Jambois stated, as a result of he hadn’t been in a position to rule out suicide as a doable method of loss of life. 

Due to the small quantity of ethylene glycol in Julie’s system, it had taken months for investigators to even discover it, and Jambois stated he discovered that almost all poisonings linked to the chemical are suicide.  

And although Julie stated that she’d by no means take her personal life, two days earlier than her loss of life she’d been prescribed antidepressants after telling a therapist she was depressing over her failing marriage, he stated.

“I by no means for a second thought Julie Jensen dedicated suicide,” Jambois stated. “However what I did know is that the protection can be that she dedicated suicide.”

The health worker ultimately decided her loss of life to be a murder and pointed to 2 causes — ethylene glycol poisoning and asphyxiation. Based mostly on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who stated that Mark had confided in him, prosecutors stated that Mark panicked when the doses of ethylene glycol didn’t finish Julie’s life.

Mark David.
Mark David.Courtesy photograph

As her respiratory appeared to enhance, Jambois stated, Mark rolled her over and shoved her face right into a pillow.

Prosecutors argued that one other piece of proof corroborated their idea that she had been poisoned. At 9:42 a.m. on the morning of Julie’s loss of life, somebody searched the web on the household’s desktop pc for diminished consciousness from ethylene glycol poisoning, Jambois stated. The 2 searches had been then deleted. 

Throughout his interview with police, Mark stated that his spouse was so sick the morning of her loss of life that she hadn’t been in a position to get off the bed. 

“She couldn’t transfer. She couldn’t even suppose straight,” Gabriele stated. “She’s not on the pc monitoring her personal signs of ethylene glycol poisoning.”

Prosecutors additionally had the letter, although it wasn’t clear if they’d have the ability to use it in courtroom: In legal circumstances, the Sixth Modification ensures the fitting of the accused to confront their accusers. On this case, the witness wasn’t obtainable; she was lifeless.  

Gabriele thought the letter would possibly do extra hurt than good — and will current grounds for an attraction. However to Jambois, it was a crucial piece of proof that might enable jurors to listen to Julie’s voice. 

Ultimately, a decide allowed the doc in — and it turned the middle of a authorized battle that lasted greater than a decade.

Dec. 18, 2013: Federal decide overturns conviction

The choice from a U.S. District decide in Wisconsin’s Jap District got here practically six years after a six-week trial and greater than 30 hours of deliberation, after which a jury discovered Mark responsible in his spouse’s homicide and a decide later sentenced him to life in jail.

Along with the informant, the letter and the pc searches, prosecutors had amassed different proof, together with testimony from a former colleague of Mark’s who recalled a chilling dialog from roughly a month earlier than Julie’s loss of life. 

Whereas he and Mark had been chatting and having just a few drinks after a convention in St. Louis, Mark confided that you may poison your partner with Benadryl, pool chemical substances or ethylene glycol, the buddy, Ed Klug, informed “Dateline.” 

However to federal Decide William Griesbach, the impact of the letter — which he described because the prosecution’s “roadmap” for trial — outweighed all of it, in accordance with the 2013 choice ordering Mark’s launch in 90 days if prosecutors didn’t retry him. 

And regardless of a prolonged listening to on the letter previous to that trial, in addition to a number of state courtroom choices — together with from Wisconsin’s excessive courtroom — in Griesbach’s view, the doc shouldn’t have been admissible. It violated Mark’s constitutional rights and had a “substantial and injurious” impact on the jury’s verdict, he wrote.

The choice surprised Gabriele.

“It was a punch within the intestine to know that there was a lot proof of his guilt and {that a} jury spent three and a half days rigorously contemplating all of it and thoroughly contemplating the legislation, they usually got here again with the responsible verdict, and that we had achieved every little thing the best way we had been alleged to do it,” she stated, noting that prosecutors had adopted a call handed down by the Wisconsin Supreme Courtroom.

“After which to have the federal courtroom inform us, no, do it once more was similar to — I simply needed to throw up,” she stated.

However there was no query they’d intention for an additional conviction, Jambois stated.

“I may have been gumming my oatmeal within the outdated of us’ dwelling,” he stated. “I’d have climbed out of my wheelchair and crawled again into courtroom to do this case once more.”

Feb. 1, 2023: Mark Jensen is convicted — once more

After years of delays, Mark’s second trial started on Jan. 9. This time, prosecutors didn’t provide Julie’s letter as proof. However with the assistance of a Division of Justice pc analyst, they’d uncovered one thing else — proof that Mark was the one who’d been harassing Julie for years.

On an exterior pc drive, they discovered a faux electronic mail laden with pornographic attachments that Mark had despatched himself, solely he’d tweaked the identify of the sender to make it appear as if it had been despatched by another person, stated Carli McNeill, the deputy district legal professional who prosecuted the case.

Then Mark offered the e-mail to his spouse as proof of harassment, and she or he famous it in a catalog of the disturbing occasions, McNeill stated.

However to McNeill, probably the most damning proof was one thing they’d had for the reason that starting — the pc searches from the morning of Julie’s loss of life. 

And when a jury delivered a responsible verdict practically a month later, Jambois stated he felt much more assured than he did the primary time round, when the authorized points surrounding the letter loomed over the trial.

“This was a clear trial,” he stated. “I’m completely assured this case goes to face up to appellate overview.”

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