Wisconsin Jury Hears Poisoned Wife's Letter From the Grave

A dead woman wanted authorities to investigate her spouse if anything happened to her, according to a letter read to jurors Monday during opening statements at her husband's murder trial.

Mark Jensen, 48, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Julie Jensen, who was found dead of poisoning in 1998 at her home in Pleasant Prairie.

"I pray that I am wrong and nothing happens, but I am suspicious of Mark's suspicious behaviors and fear for my early demise," Julie Jensen said in the letter read in court by Special Prosecutor Robert Jambois.

She had given the letter to a neighbor and told him to give it to police if anything happened to her.

Mark Jensen was charged with first-degree murder in 2002, but legal wrangling over evidence delayed the trial until now.

The defendant's lawyers claim the 40-year-old woman was depressed and disturbed and poisoned herself to frame her cheating husband.

Defense attorney Craig Albee said in his opening statement that Julie Jensen had seen a therapist at least three times for depression and that there was a history of depression in her family.

"Her depression and her despair and her anger and her delusional thinking caused her to point her finger at Mark," Albee said.

Jambois said that if Julie Jensen wanted to commit suicide she would have swallowed a lot of poison, leaving large amounts of it in her blood. Instead, only trace amounts were found, proving that someone slowly poisoned her, he said.

The prosecution alleges Jensen poisoned his wife with at least two doses of ethylene glycol, commonly used as antifreeze, so he could be with a girlfriend he has since married.

Jambois said Mark Jensen planned the killing for months, searching the Internet for information on poisoning about two months before his wife's death. The defense has said she did the searches herself in preparation for her suicide.

The prosecutor said Mark Jensen told a co-worker that he looked into poisoning his wife. In jail, he told an inmate he killed his wife, Jambois said, noting the inmate knew details only Mark Jensen would know.

Julie Jensen also told police, a neighbor and the teacher of one of her two sons that she suspected her husband was trying to kill her, according to court documents.

Until recent years, using such evidence in court was virtually unheard of because of constitutional guarantees giving criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers.

However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court created new evidence rules, guided by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that laid the groundwork for the use of Julie Jensen's letter and statements to police.