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New trial on tap for Wisconsin man convicted of killing wife

Mark Jensen looks at his attorney, Craig Albee, during a bond hearing in Kenosha in 2016. On Wednesday, the Kenosha News reported, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for Jensen, a man convicted in the poisoning death of his wife. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, File)

Mark Jensen looks at his attorney, Craig Albee, during a bond hearing in Kenosha in 2016. On Wednesday, the Kenosha News reported, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for Jensen, a man convicted in the poisoning death of his wife. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, File)

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appellate court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted in the poisoning death in 1998 of his wife.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a lower court judge erred in 2017 when he reinstated Mark Jensen’s conviction in the death of his wife, Julie, the Kenosha News reported. It was a case that depended heavily on a letter and voicemail messages Julie Jensen left before her death.

The long-running case began when Julie Jensen’s body was found in the Pleasant Prairie home she shared with her husband and their two sons. Her death was initially ruled a suicide and it took more than nine years for the case to go to trial.

Mark Jensen, now 60, has maintained his innocence. His attorneys argued Julie Jensen was depressed and killed herself after framing her husband. Prosecutors said Jensen killed his wife with antifreeze in order to be with his mistress and that he searched the internet for ways to make her death look like a suicide.

Jensen was eventually convicted in 2008, on evidence that included a letter Julie Jensen wrote before her death and gave to a neighbor. In it, she wrote that “if anything happens to me” that her husband “would be my first suspect.”

The case has bounced between the Wisconsin Supreme Court and several federal courts. In 2017, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Chad Kerkman reinstated Jensen’s conviction despite earlier decisions by the state Supreme Court and federal courts to disallow Julie Jensen’s letter.

“That the jury improperly heard Julie’s voice from the grave in the way it did means there is no doubt that Jensen’s rights under the federal Confrontation Clause were violated,” the state Supreme Court said in ordering a new trial.

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