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Former Kenosha County Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Mainland took the witness stand Tuesday in the retrial for homicide of Mark Jensenthe man accused of poisoning, drugging and then suffocating his wife to death for three days in December 1998.
Mainland, a medical examiner who testified in 2008 at Mark Jensen’s first trial in Kenosha County Circuit Court, testified again about the toxic substances found in Julie Jensen’s body after her death.
Mainland said she firmly believes the 40-year-old mother-of-two’s death was a homicide and the causes were antifreeze poisoning and asphyxiation.
Mainland, now retired, testified in person during week three of Mark Jensen’s jury retrial for most of the morning. She firmly believes that Julie Jensen did not die by suicide.
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Mark Jensen, now 63, was convicted in February 2008 of murdering his wife in their home in the Carol Beach neighborhood near the lake. He is on trial here again after years of appeals and battles in state and federal courts.
Mark Jensen, according to prosecutors, killed his wife in early December 1998 by poisoning her with ethylene glycol, more commonly known as antifreeze, then suffocating her as she lay in bed, dying and exhausted. breath in order to be with a woman he was. have an affair with. They also allege he killed Julie Jensen out of deep anger over a previous affair she had with a co-worker, as well as other marriage issues.
Mark Jensen, a former stockbroker, searched the internet for ways to make Julie Jensen’s death look like a suicide and terrorized her for years with strategically placed pornography, emails and phone calls , according to prosecutors.
Mark Jensen, however, has maintained his innocence since his wife’s death. Her lawyers argued that Julie Jensen was deeply depressed and took her own life after blaming her husband for her death.
Testimony of the pathologist
Although Mainland did not perform Julie Jensen’s autopsy herself, she reviewed the case, toxicology findings and medical records when she became a Kenosha County medical examiner in 2005.
Mainland testified at Mark Jensen’s forfeiture hearing that Julie Jensen died of ethylene glycol poisoning, but could not rule out asphyxiation as a contributing factor in 2007, then at her trial in 2008 after having learned more about the case that Julie Jensen died of complications associated with the two. poisoning and suffocation.
She spoke at length on Tuesday about how ethylene glycol contributed to the death of Julie Jensen.
“There were a number of substances in Julie Jensen’s system, the most important being ethylene glycol which is the ingredient in antifreeze,” Mainland said of the lab reports on the body from 110 to 115 books by Julie Jensen. “The medical examiner found microscopic findings, particularly in kidney tissue, that were very concerning for ethylene glycol poisoning.”
Effects of antifreeze
Photos of samples of Julie Jensen’s badly damaged kidneys were shown to the jury. Mainland explained at length how ethylene glycol destroys the body from within if ingested, and how such materials were found in Julie Jensen’s stomach, liver, and brain after her death.
“Ethylene glycol is an alcohol, and it’s very similar in structure to the ethanol or alcohol that many of us enjoy,” Mainland said. “When ethylene glycol is first ingested, it has the same effect as alcoholic beverages. A person will act drunk or mad or they might have trouble walking or they might stumble.
“Depending on how much a person takes, they can have seizures and go into a coma. And all of that can happen from about 30 minutes after exposure to about 12 hours after exposure. This is the first phase of ethylene glycol poisoning.”
Mainland said the effects get worse from there.
“After that, the amount of ethylene glycol in the body decreases because it is processed by the liver, it is transformed into a number of other compounds, which are all acids. Most important for the next phase, the phase 2 of ethylene glycol poisoning, is called glycolic acid.This forces the body to do everything it can to try to get rid of the excess acid in the blood.
“So the person is going to start hyperventilating, you can get rid of the acid by breathing quickly, getting rid of the carbon dioxide. The person is going to hyperventilate and then they’ll have really deep abnormal breathing. They may also have heart symptoms, the heart may beat, it may beat fast, it may even fail This is the second stage of poisoning and it begins 12 to 24 hours after ingestion of ethylene glycol.
As ethylene glycol is broken down into glycolic acid and other acids, including oxalic acid, it combines with calcium in the blood and forms “crystals” that tend to lodge in the kidneys, Mainland explained.
“They cause kidney damage,” Mainland said. “The third stage beginning about 24 to 72 hours after taking ethylene glycol is called the renal or kidney phase. This is where you can see the kidneys fail. You can see death in one of three phases .”
Julie Jensen’s kidneys had structures called tubes which contained crystals.
Mainland said Julie Jensen was likely given more than one dose of antifreeze because in the days before her death she showed classic signs of ethylene glycol poisoning, including acting ‘drunk’ and breathing heavily. .
She said people who die by suicide with ethylene glycol usually ingest a large amount of it at once and not self-administer smaller doses over several days.
Other substances found inside Julie Jensen’s body included Ambien, Paxil and Librium.
Reason for retrial
Original prosecutor Robert Jambois, a former Kenosha County District Attorney, serves as special prosecutor before Judge Anthony Milisauskas, now the third Kenosha County Circuit Court judge to preside over the case.
Mark Jensen is represented by a team of defense attorneys led by Bridget Krause.
A Kenosha County judge overturned Mark Jensen’s conviction in April 2021 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Jensen deserved a new trial.
The court ruled that a letter written by his wife incriminating him in case anything happened to her could not be used by the prosecution as it had been in the first trial. In early 2022, the United States Supreme Court helped pave the way for the new trial when it refused to hear an appeal of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.
The so-called ‘letter from the grave’ in which Julie Jensen wrote that ‘if anything happened to me’ that her husband ‘would be my prime suspect’ will not be admitted into evidence at this lengthy trial. The high-profile case made headlines across the country.
Mark Jensen, who is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, remains in custody on $1.2 million cash bond in Kenosha County. He faces life imprisonment.
The prosecution is expected to rest on Tuesday.
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