Todd Kendhammer found guilty of killing his wife - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Todd Kendhammer found guilty of killing his wife

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Todd Kendhammer following the guilty verdict Thursday night. Todd Kendhammer following the guilty verdict Thursday night.
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) - -

Todd Kendhammer's face showed a bit of shock when the guilty verdict was read. 

Kendhammer is now convicted of First Degree Intentional Homicide in the death of his wife Barbara in September 2016.

The 12-person jury came back with the guilty verdict after nearly nine hours of deliberations Thursday afternoon and evening. 

They ultimately didn't believe the version of events that Kendhammer said happened the morning of September 16. He said that as he and his wife traveled down the road in their car, a pipe fell from a passing truck and smashed through the windshield and struck her in the head. She died the next day in a La Crosse hospital.  

The jury came back with the verdict shortly after 9 p.m. 

Family members gasped with shock when Judge Todd Bjerke read the decision aloud in the courtroom. 

After the verdict was read, Judge Todd Bjerke asked each juror verbally what their verdict was. All replied guilty. 

Bjerke revoked Kendhammer's bail once the guilty verdict was in. 

Kendhammer was handcuffed and not allowed to hug or have any physical contact with his family. He was then led crying from the courtroom by two deputies. 

District Attorney Tim Gruenke said later that it proves that domestic violence can happen anywhere and that it can happen behind closed doors even in a perfect relationship.

Emotional Kendhammer family members and friends shouted expletives and shoved WXOW reporter Caroline Hecker when she asked for comments as they were leaving the courthouse. Kendhammer's attorneys refused to talk to the media. 

Kendhammer is now in the La Crosse County Jail where he's awaiting sentencing which is set for March 9, 2018. 


8:15 p.m. Update: Jurors continue their deliberations.  


6:45 p.m. Update: Jurors remain behind closed doors in deliberation. It isn't clear how late into the evening they will continue those deliberations. If they don't reach a verdict, plans call for the jury to be sequestered at a local hotel until Friday morning.  

They have asked to see a number of exhibits and documents during their deliberations. A bailiff was seen taking those exhibits out of the courtroom during the afternoon. 


The fate of Todd Kendhammer is now up to the jury.

After closing arguments and rebuttal, Judge Todd Bjerke gave jurors final instructions. 

The jury was then reduced to 12 people. 14 jurors had heard all the evidence.

Todd Kendhammer picked two numbers representing two jurors. One was then dismissed entirely while the other will be kept in a separate room as an alternate in case one of the 12 jurors falls ill or can't continue for some reason. 

The jury then left the courtroom to begin their deliberations on the First Degree Intentional Homicide charge against Kendhammer.


Following DA Tim Gruenke, the defense made their closing remarks to the jury.

Attorney Stephen Hurley said early in his remarks, "Nobody ever saw them (Todd and Barbara) argue...not in 25 years of marriage." 

As for the injuries to Barbara, Hurley said of the prosecution's assertion that Todd beat her, "If they're saying those injuries came from Todd...that he caused it...they better prove it." Hurley said they didn't. "The evidence doesn't support any theory the prosecution is trying to get you to buy."

Hurley then went through the timeline of events and the subsequent searches by investigators. He said Barbara put her purse in the backseat of the car because she needed to hold her Bubba mug filled with water in her lap as it didn't fit into the cup holder. Hurley contends that when the pipe came through the windshield, Barb came forward and her head was driven into the cup and subsequently the dashboard. "When you duck, you're restrained by the seat belt, but not in such a way as when the breaks are applied."

He later said that the scratches on Barbara's neck were caused by the windshield glass and the Bubba mug.

Hurley said that as for Todd Kendhammer not remembering certain portions of what happened that day, "The only thing that was important to him was his wife." He said that Kendhammer asked more than 50 times how his wife was doing while at the crash scene because that's all his mind was thinking about. 

He also questioned the motive why Todd killed Barbara. "If your spouse tells you they're working the night shift, you're going to beat them to death? Are you kidding me?" Todd Kendhammer said he was switching to the night shift at Crown Cork and Seal where he worked.

"When you have no motive, and all the evidence shows there is no motive, where's the proof that this was an intentional assault. What reason would Todd Kendhammer have to assault his wife?"

He concluded by asking the jury to demand proof and to not take the state's invitation to filling in the blanks with speculation. He asked the jury to find his client not guilty.


Closing arguments are underway in the homicide trial of Todd Kendhammer.

"We're here to seek the truth with Barbara Kendhammer," said La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke as he began his statement. 

When Todd Kendhammer said a pipe fell off a truck, Gruenke said, "We know that's not true." Gruenke said Kendhammer didn't tell the truth on a number of times regarding the circumstances surrounding Barbara's death. "His lies continued through the trial."

Throughout his closing, Gruenke said Kendhammer lied repeatedly about the events of September 16. Gruenke said Kendhammer lied about going to get a truck to repair a windshield that morning, lied about not seeing a witness who drove by the Kendhammer vehicle on Bergum Coulee Road that morning.

"My grandfather said you can't trust a man who lies to you. You can't this man who lied to you," Gruenke said of Kendhammer.

At another point, Gruenke said, "The pipe didn't fly through the windshield, the defendant put it there." Kendhammer said a pipe fell from a passing truck and came through the windshield of their vehicle and hit Barbara. 

As for Todd Kendhammer not being able to remember some things and not others that happened on that day, Gruenke also said to jurors, "He forgets a lot of things that day that I think most people would say is burned into their minds forever."

Towards the end of his closing argument, Gruenke said, "I believe Todd Kendhammer lost control, snapped, and beat his wife to death for some reason he's not telling us."

To close, he said simply, "He killed her. He should be held accountable."


Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning in the homicide trial of Todd Kendhammer.

He's the West Salem man accused of killing his wife in September 2016.

Testimony ended Wednesday afternoon for both the prosecution and defense.

Following closing arguments from each side, Judge Todd Bjerke will give final instructions to the jury, who will then begin their deliberations. 

MORE: Todd Kendhammer Trial Coverage

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