Early evidence presented in Hankel reckless homicide case - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Early evidence presented in Hankel reckless homicide case

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – A judge heard some of the evidence against Malachi Hankel, 28, of Madison, who's charged with first degree reckless homicide Friday.

Hankel is charged for the death of Thomas Tremain, a resident of the Town of Barre who died in early September from a drug overdose.

According to Sgt. John Zimmerman, an investigator with the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department, when Hankel left Tremain's home, he left a note with his name and phone number, asking if Tremain was OK.

That note gave the Sheriff's Department a suspect.

A baggy, with a torn corner was a clue that drugs may be involved, Zimmerman said on the stand.

"As what was observed on the couch, I suspected there could be a possible overdose consistent with Mr. Tremain's death," he said.

Based on his training, Zimmerman said the baggies are used to hold illegal drugs.

According to the criminal complaint, Hankel told investigators that for some money, he drove Tremain from Madison, back to his home in the Town of Barre.

"Mr. Hankel said he did observe Mr. Tremain use the heroin and did subsequently admit he used the heroin with Mr. Tremain," Zimmerman said.

An autopsy shows Tremain died of an overdose on heroin, alcohol and alprazolam.  

Investigators said Hankel supplied that heroin.

But Hankel's defense team said if Hankel knew Tremain overdosed, he wouldn't have left a note.

"In other words, in your training and experience, people don't leave notes for dead people, right," asked defense attorney Vincent Rust.

"Correct," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman also said Tremain suffered from alcoholism. His family was trying to get him into a treatment program in Madison. Tremain fled when he got there.

Hankel will have the second part of his preliminary hearing sometime next week.

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