KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors and attorneys for a Wisconsin man accused of killing his wife with antifreeze in 1998 delivered opening statements Wednesday in his retrial, nearly two years after a judge vacated his previous conviction.
Mark Jensen, 63, was convicted in 2008 of killing his wife, Julie Jensen, at their home in the Kenosha County village of Pleasant Prairie and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
But a Kenosha County judge vacated his conviction in April 2021 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Jensen deserved a new trial. The court found that a letter his wife wrote incriminating him in the event something should happen to her could not be used by the prosecution.
Jensen, who is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in his wife’s death, remains in custody on a $1.2 million cash bond, the Kenosha News reported.
Prosecutors allege that he began poisoning his wife with antifreeze in December 1998, drugged her with a sleeping medication and later suffocated her to death over a three-day period.
Jensen has maintained his innocence, with his attorneys arguing that Julie Jensen was depressed and killed herself after framing her husband.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Carli McNeill told the jury during her opening statements that prosecutors would present evidence “that the defendant murdered his wife with ethylene glycol, that this was not Julie Jensen ingesting that substance to commit suicide.”
“She lived for her kids, and she died because the defendant murdered her,” McNeill said.
Jensen’s defense attorneys said Julie Jensen’s infidelity and depression strained the couple’s marriage and led her to take her own life.
“What brings us here today is Julie Jensen’s suicide,” said Mackenzie Renner, Mark Jensen’s attorney. “The suicide of a woman who was in declining mental health.”
Jurors began hearing testimony from witnesses after Wednesday’s opening statements.
Jensen’s trial is expected to last four to five weeks.