Judge to allow 3rd party defense in Juedes trial
By Kevin O’Brien
The theory that someone other than Cindy Schulz-Juedes murdered her husband in 2006 will be fair game at her homicide trial scheduled for later this year.
Marathon County Judge Mike Moran ruled Feb. 19 that defense attorney Earl Gray had met the criteria needed to introduce a third-party perpetrator defense, which involves five men who allegedly carried out a plot to kill Ken Juedes at his home on Aug. 29,2006.
Schulz-Juedes, 66, is the only person who has been charged in the death of her husband, based on law enforcement’s theory that she shot her husband in order to cash in on various life insurance policies and to benefit financially from a will that may have been forged.
She is currently in Marathon County Jail, awaiting trial on a charge of firstdegree homicide, which is scheduled for Oct. 11 through Nov. 12.
Judge Moran’s decision to allow the third-party defense was one of many made during a 90-minute motion hearing held at the Marathon County Courthouse in Wausau, with all of the parties participating remotely In a court filing submitted before the hearing, prosecutors Robert Kaiser and Theresa Wetzsteon acknowledged that Gray had satisfied the standards established by Wisconsin law for introducing a third-party perpetrator defense.
“As a general matter, we’re not objecting to the defense being allowed to present that evidence,” Kaiser told Judge Moran at the hearing.
However, the prosecutors made it clear that they reserve the right to object to any specific claims or allegations made by the defense, subject to the rules of evidence for criminal trials. They also asked that Gray be prevented from “changing course” during the trial and presenting evidence that someone other than the five alleged accomplices named in his motion was responsible.
See JUEDES/ Page 11 Gray, however, said he’s not aware of any prohibition against him raising more than one third-party perpetrator defense at trial. He hinted that other theories of the crime may be introduced in the future.
“There are two other theories that I have not raised yet because I’m still investigating them,” he said.
If other evidence emerges, Gray said he doesn’t want to be barred from raising additional alternate theories.
Kaiser asked that prosecutors be allowed to object to those alternate theories, especially if they are not given reasonable notice and enough time to prepare for them before the trial starts.
Judge Moran said he would take a “wait-and-see” approach on whether Gray tries to introduce other alternate theories.
“Obviously, I’m not going to suspend the rules of evidence for this case, so you’ll have the opportunity to object, but I’m not going to, at this point, bar any other defenses,” he told the prosecutors.
The third-party notice filed by Gray last fall alleges that four men drove to the Juedes residence on Aug. 29, 2006, and three of them went inside, with the driver later telling people that he heard gunshots coming from inside the residence.
According to this theory, the four men were hired by the owner of the Monster Hall racetrack and campground, who was allegedly trying to cover up acts of fraud committed against Juedes and another investor in the racetrack. Gray’s motion included statements from multiple individuals who told police that the driver of the getaway car confessed to the crime at various times since the murder.
One of the witnesses said the driver “called her, crying and frightened, expressing a worry that he would be killed by his confederates in the Ken Juedes murder.”
In discussing a possible motive, Gray points out that his client and her husband were in the middle of a contentious lawsuit filed against the alleged ringleader of the murder plot. This person had allegedly stolen $300,000 from the race track and was facing possible charges of security fraud due to Juedes’ allegations.
Another motion hearing in the case has been scheduled for May 27.