Todd Kendhammer Trial: Week One Recap - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Todd Kendhammer Trial: Week One Recap

Posted: Updated:

The trial for a West Salem man accused of killing his wife and trying to disguise it as a freak accident is entering its second week.

Last week, prosecutors brought more than two dozen witnesses to the stand offering testimony that poked holes in Todd Kendhammer's alibi and questioned the credibility of his explanation of events.

After jury selection on Monday, the jury visited the scene on Bergum Coulee Road off of County Road M in the Town of Hamilton. Upon returning from the scene, opening statements from prosecutors and defense attorneys began.

"We're here to get justice for Barbara Kendhammer," District Attorney Tim Gruenke told the jury. "At the end of this case I'm arguing the truth does not support the version Todd Kendhammer gave to police."

Stephen Hurley, one of Kendhammer's defense attorneys, argued his client is incapable of harming his wife.

"Not only will the state not be able to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but you will know that Todd Kendhammer could never have even had the thought pass through his head," Hurley said.

Tuesday's testimony gave jurors their first look at the pipe Kendhammer claims impaled his windshield and struck his wife. Surveillance video from a business near County Road M shows no flatbed trucks passing by during the time frame he claims the incident occurred.

MORE: Tuesday Trial Coverage

On Wednesday, jurors heard testimony from Dr. Kathleen McCubbin, the former Dane County Medical Examiner who performed Barbara's autopsy. She testified the injuries to her head and neck were inconsistent of that from a pipe. However, she couldn't say with certainty what they were caused by.

"If a pipe had accused those injuries I would expect there would have been much more devastating injuries," she said. "I have never seen that pattern of injury in any of the motor vehicle autopsies I have performed.

When asked by prosecutors if the injuries to Barbara's head and neck could be a result of a struggle and strangulation, McCubbin answered, "possibly."

Randy Erler, who drove by the Kendhammer vehicle on Bergum Coulee Road the morning of September 16, 2016 also testified on Tuesday. He said he drove by at about 4 or 5 miles an hour with his window down and saw no damage to the windshield, but did see the passenger side door open.

Prosecutors also brought Justin Heim to testify against Kendhammer. Heim's house is where Kendhammer told investigators he was headed to pick up a truck that needed a new windshield installed. When asked if he had any conversations with Todd about coming to his house that morning Justin testified, "Absolutely not."

MORE: Wednesday Trial Coverage

On Thursday, the jury watched the nearly five hour interview of Kendhammer with investigators at the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department. About an hour and a half into the video, investigators appear to accuse him of hiding something.

"These injuries didn't happen from a pipe coming through the windshield and I think you understand that, and I think you know that," Investigator Fritz Leinfelder said in the video.

MORE: Thursday Trial Coverage

On Friday, jurors heard testimony from workers at the State Crime Lab. Kevin Scott testified Barbara's DNA was found on both ends of the pipe and said Todd's DNA was also found all over the pipe. 

Nick Stahlke testified about the impacts made to the outside of the windshield. After studying the cracks in the glass, he testified the pipe hit the windshield once before the hole was produced on the windshield. He also said very little blood was found on the passenger side seat, and believes the glass found on the passenger side seat indicates no one was sitting in it at the time the glass was deposited. A lack of glass in the map pocket in the passenger side door led him to the conclusion the door was open at the time.

Stahlke also testified dirt and a sand like substance was located on the floor in between the passenger side door and seat. He also said dirt was found in the trunk.

MORE: Friday Trial Coverage

Prosecutors are expected to rest their case first thing on Monday. The defense will then spend the rest of the week calling more than 40 witnesses to the stand.

News 19 will continue its live stream of the trial at www.wxow.com/live or on our News 19 mobile app beginning at 8:15 a.m. Monday.

Powered by Frankly