Saturday, January 5, 2008

Guilty Greetings from the Grave

Whoever said "you can never escape the long arm of the law" knew what he was talking about. Mark Jensen will be tried for murdering his wife in 1998, based on the information provided by his dead wife. Talking about reaching out from the grave, this one is definitely a very long arm. Something similar to that corpse crawling out of the TV set in the movie "The Ring".

Julie Jensen's testimony, which is very damaging to her husband, will be from the to speak. It seems that she told several neighbors about her marital troubles ( her husband having an affair whom he eventually married after her death), and that he was planning to poison her. She even mentioned that he was forcing her to drink wine so he could inject the poison into her, adding that she had noticed syringes in the house. On top of these, she wrote a letter to a neighbor about the same intent she believed her husband was about to carry out, citing some internet sites her husband visited to learn about poisoning.

This very letter is now going to be used against mark as evidence; considered as his wife's testimony. Could it be that Mark really poisoned his wife so he could be free to marry his paramour as the prosecution alleges? Or could the wife have been the one who searched the internet and planted the evidence - as well as the taking of the poison - because she was distraught at the thought of her husband's philandering as the defense contends?

Whatever happened to the Constitutional guarantee that a person has the right to face his accusers? Can he cross-examine a corpse 10 years buried? Isn't this going to smell awfully bad?

Unfortunately for Mark, the US Supreme Court in 2004, overturned a 1980 case that laid out complex rules as to when statements can be used without the opportunity for cross examination. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, following the decision of the US Supreme Court, drafted a set of rules to the effect that previously disallowed testimony could be admissible if the Judge determines that the defendant's actions prevented the witness from testifying. Since Mark Jensen is charged with murdering his wife, effectively preventing her testimony (of course, if she was alive, there is nothing to testify about ); he now goes to trial.

The problem for all members of the court is defining the limits on the use of hearsay evidence in a criminal case. Under the circumstances, Mark's marrying his lover when aspersions on his intentions have been cast by his wife's statements to neighbors, puts him in a no-win situation. They will speak glowingly about his wife and covertly judge him with seething contempt.

The lessons of this case are: Keep your wife healthy even as you plan to divorce her. Never mind the alimony, its better than a potential life in prison; be very nice to your neighbors, even the irritatingly nosy ones, they can make you a martyr someday; lastly, never marry your mistress, its in bad taste. Follow the lead of Rudy Giuliani, he married someone else, now he's even running for President!

The lesson for Mark is a very private one, a "till death do us part vow" which he will take to his grave!


No comments: