An experienced Kenosha police officer testified Monday about the blood spatter found both inside and outside the apartment where a Kenosha man was allegedly killed by a Mequon man in May 2020.
Officer Jeffrey Van Wie, a veteran of the force who serves as a patrol officer, field training officer and a forensic examiner who oversees evidence technicians, testified in the trial of Zachariah Anderson, 42. Anderson is accused of killing Rosalio Gutierrez Jr., 40, in a jealous rage on May 17, 2020, and then hiding or disposing of the body.
Van Wie said he was dispatched to the apartment on May 19, 2020, to help investigate the matter and assist other law enforcement officials already on the scene.
“I walked inside the hallway and on apartment 1B I saw dried red fluid stains on the door itself and around the door,” Van Wie said. “There appeared to be blood on the exterior door and door frame and the walls around the door.”
The jury was shown a photo of the door of 1B with many droplets of dried blood on the exterior of it.
“All of these darker stains you see on the red door, all of these stains here I suspected were blood stains,” Van Wie told the jury while using a pointer to highlight the impact spatter. “Impact spatter is when there’s some kind of force which impacts on liquid blood. So, force would hit the liquid blood and it would disperse into small blood drops and it would just scatter out onto a surface.”
Van Wie said only blunt force trauma or gun shots could cause the impact spatter he observed.
“Blunt force trauma would be somebody getting struck with some kind of object like a bat or a hammer or some sort,” Van Wie said. “Somebody would have to have blood on them in order to cause this. ... My training would indicate .. at least two I should say, a minimum of two (blows). Normally, when somebody gets struck the first time that’s what causes the bleeding and then the second time is when that blood would actually come off that person and disperse.”
Van Wie continued testifying throughout Monday’s proceedings.
He also testified about “similar” impact spatter found on the interior side of the door, on walls and on other items found throughout the apartment that likely came from different blows.
Gutierrez’s body has never been recovered. His family and friends were in court again Monday, as they have been since the start of the trial that has sparked headlines across the nation.
Anderson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, a Class A felony that carries a sentence of life in prison if convicted. Anderson is also charged with felonies of hiding a corpse and stalking.
Anderson allegedly killed Guitierrez inside of his Wood Creek apartment on the city’s north side. Prosecutors allege he did so because he was upset Gutierrez began having a romantic relationship with Sadie Beacham, his ex-girlfriend and mother to his three children.
Gutierrez, a father of two young children, was reported missing May 19, 2020, after Beacham, who had been unable to reach him, went to his first-floor apartment in the 3700 block of 15th Street, found the patio door open and blood splattered on the floor and furniture.
Police focused on Anderson after Beacham reported that Anderson — her former partner — had been stalking and harassing her in the weeks after she began developing a relationship with Gutierrez.
Last week, Lisa Treffinger, a longtime analyst and crime scene team leader of the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory, testified in the trial.
Treffinger said the blood found on numerous items inside Gutierrez’s apartment tested positive for the presence of Gutierrez’s DNA. That DNA was compared with items found in Gutierrez’s apartment, including a toothbrush, a door handle and hair.
Treffinger said she also examined the inside of a vehicle brought to a crime lab and found a “tiny” and “reddish-brown” speck of blood that tested positive for Gutierrez’s DNA.
Prosecutors allege Anderson transported Gutierrez’s dead body from his apartment to another location with a work van. The speck of blood was found on a panel on the rear passenger side.
Inside the van a patch of carpet was removed, along with the seats, and the interior appeared to have been scrubbed with bleach. Treffinger said a tech who examined the van noticed the smell of bleach.
A photo of the empty van was shown to the jury Friday.
The jury was also shown photos of Gutierrez’z apartment taken by investigator that showed a substantial amount of blood on the carpets, a couch and walls.
Nicole Muller, one of Anderson’s defense attorneys, maintains the police investigation was flawed from the start and detectives “failed to look in places that should’ve been looked into” and instead zeroed in Anderson based on Beacham’s claims. On Monday afternoon she also questioned Van Wie’s knowledge and education regarding blood pattern analysis and history of testifying about such things.
District Attorney Michael Graveley said Anderson killed Gutierrez because he was “jealous” and “irrational” and also wanted to feel like he was still in control of Beacham.
Anderson is being held on a $750,000 cash bond at the Kenosha County Jail. He has been in custody since shortly after Gutierrez’s disappearance, initially charged with stalking.
The homicide charge was added in December 2020 after an investigation reportedly found evidence that indicated Anderson may have moved Gutierrez’s body in his vehicle.
Authorities also indicated that burn pits were found on property belonging to Anderson or his family, with evidence that the clothing Anderson was wearing at the same time Gutierrez went missing may have been burned.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder is presiding over the trial that is expected to last at least another week.
The jury of 13 now consists of eight women and five men after both the defense and prosecution agreed to dismiss a female juror because she was not feeling well. There is one alternate.
MADISON — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers can’t seem to agree on how much extra money they have to work with in the state budget.
Attempting to justify their budget priorities last week, Evers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee cited three different amounts for what they expect to have at their discretion to fund new programs.
Here’s what current budget projections say about the money that’s available:
How much new money?Wisconsin will start the two-year budget cycle with a record surplus projected at more than $7 billion, largely due to an influx of one-time federal pandemic relief funds.
State revenue, primarily from taxes, is expected to grow by $2.3 billion in 2024 and $3 billion in 2025, giving the state another $5.3 billion more than its base spending in 2023, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SURPLUS AND TAX REVENUE
Increased tax revenue is ongoing. That’s money lawmakers can budget for new programs that will need funding year after year. The surplus comes mostly from one-time funding.
“You probably shouldn’t look to that for ongoing expenditures,” said Dave Loppnow, assistant director of the fiscal bureau. Evers and Republicans will likely try to direct the surplus funds to their priorities through one-time investments such as grant programs.
Evers laid out plans for several massive, one-time investments in his version of the budget, which includes $240 million to launch paid family and medical leave, billions in additional public school funding and $100 million to fight pollution from so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS.
HOW MUCH ALREADY EARMARKED?
The Legislature will work over the next four months to draft its version of the budget, which Evers can then reshape with partial vetoes. However, some of the increased revenue is effectively spoken for by the costs of continuing programs that were boosted by one-time federal funds, such as Medicaid and higher wages for correctional officers.
“Some of these things like funding Medicaid — the ongoing cost — you’ve pretty much got to do it,” said Jason Stein, research director at the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum. “You start to whittle away at your number.”
After accounting for continuing costs, the state will be left with about $2.4 billion from recurring revenue after the second year of spending, according to the fiscal bureau.
ARE OFFICIALS USING ‘PHONY MATH?’
While downplaying the usefulness of surplus funds last week, Vos accused Evers of relying on “phony math” to construct his budget plan. A day earlier, Evers promised tax cuts for the middle class and additional funding for local governments.
“We do not have anywhere near the money that Gov. Evers spoke about yesterday,” Vos said.
But that could be true for both Republicans’ and Democrats’ plans, according to Stein. Republicans back a plan to enact a flat income tax rate, which would mostly benefit wealthy filers and could decrease tax revenue by almost $5 billion a year.
Last fiscal year, Wisconsin collected about $9.2 billion in income taxes. Under the flat-tax plan by 2026, the state would collect roughly half as much, depending on inflation and other economic factors, according to the fiscal bureau.
“The very large increases in ongoing spending in the governor’s proposal and the very large ongoing tax cuts you would have to do if you were doing a flat tax, both of them would be difficult to sustain into the future,” Stein said.
Still, it’s unlikely either Evers or Republicans are relying on “phony math.”
“These things are an opening negotiating position for both sides,” Stein said.
Republicans showed signs of backing off on the push for a flat tax earlier last week, when state Rep. Mark Born and state Sen. Howard Marklein, co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, said it was unlikely they would get all the way to a flat tax in the current budget.
WHERE ARE NUMBERS COMING FROM?
Evers and Republicans have used different calculations to underscore aspects of the budget that fit their goals.
Evers, who wants to expand grant programs and dole out assistance to schools and the middle class, has highlighted the unprecedented one-time surplus as justification for increased spending.
Born and Marklein have focused on the annual increases in ongoing revenue — about $2.3 billion in 2024 and $3 billion in 2025. As co-chairs of the finance committee, they will oversee the allocation of that money to continuing program costs and new investments.
Vos, who has railed against Evers’ spending plan in favor of GOP-backed tax cuts and a balanced budget, based his statements last week on the estimated $2.4 billion in ongoing revenue that will be left after two years of continued costs. He said that of the $1.2 billion available annually to spend on new investments, about 75% would be accounted for by continued costs of Medicaid and corrections wages. But according to the fiscal bureau, those amounts were already removed from the estimate it provided to Vos.
Vos’ spokeswoman, Angela Joyce, told The Associated Press on Friday that Vos had mistakenly referenced the wrong numbers while speaking at a gathering of the Wisconsin Counties Association. It is unclear what other costs were accounted for in the estimate Vos cited. The fiscal bureau declined to provide the confidential memorandum it gave to Vos, and Vos’ office did not respond to requests for the information.
A second member of a Kenosha County commission responsible for examining equity among racial and ethnic groups has quit, calling into question whether the county’s leader believes racism exists.
Derrell Greene, who was appointed to the commission in 2021, submitted his letter of resignation dated March 3 to County Executive Samantha Kerkman on the heels of fellow member Brad Backer, a local attorney. Both resigned in protest of Kerkman’s picks to fill two vacancies that have existed since last year on the county’s Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission.
Both have criticized Kerkman, saying she has not taken seriously the issue of racism in Kenosha County.
Kerkman’s nominations for appointment are on the Kenosha County Board agenda Tuesday night and are expected to be referred to committee. They are:
Bristol resident Xavier Solis, a private practice attorney who has worked as an advocate counsel for Kenosha and Racine county courts and the state public defender’s office. Solis has also served as a guardian ad litem in Kenosha County.
A. Brian Gonzales, a retired Kenosha Police officer and a candidate for sheriff in last year’s election.
In his letter, Greene, a retired director for the county’s Veterans Services Division, accused Kerkman of disregarding the commission’s recommendation in October last year to add an African American woman to the panel. Greene added that the county executive “made it more egregious” by selecting two additional men to serve.
The two nominees would be replacing commissioners Brian Martinez and Tyler Arentz, who resigned for personal reasons last year.
Before Greene’s and Backer’s resignations, and should Solis and Gonzales be formally appointed, the commission would have had seven men and two women.
“How is that equitable?” Greene asked.
Both Backer and Greene said Kerkman failed to fill the two vacancies in a timely manner. According to both men, the vacancies were supposed to have been filled within 30 days of an established timeline by the County Board. They said Kerkman informed them she would have her picks to fill the vacancies ready in November.
Greene said he believes the executive has “no desire” to help the commission meet its objectives.
The commission was established in 2021 with a stated mission to realize greater racial equity and dismantle racism in Kenosha County through research, education and ongoing review of current procedures, and to implement transformative ideas born through research, collaboration and community engagement.
As outlined in a resolution adopted by the County Board, the commission shall — at a minimum — reflect the diverse racial and ethnic makeup of Kenosha County as determined by the most recent census information, with five of the seven non-County Board commissioners representing racial and ethnic minorities in Kenosha County.
Greene added that, given her nominations, Kerkman did not “have a clue or belief that racism exists in Kenosha” despite the County Board’s 2021 declaration that it was a “public health crisis” that warranted the creation of the commission to assist the local government increasing racial equity.
“I believe that racism is a real problem in Kenosha and it’s unfortunate that you, as the leader of the County, don’t feel the same way,” Greene said. “Your actions today and cavalier attitude in addressing this issue have shown to me that you do not care that racism exists in Kenosha nor do you plan to do anything about it.”
Kerkman, on Monday, thanked Greene for his service to the commission, as she did with Backer following his resignation on Friday when her selections were announced.
She said she respected Greene, but countered his statement about not wanting the commission to succeed.
“As for his statement about my interest in the development and success of the commission, I have absolutely no wish for it to fail,” Kerkman said in a statement. “I believe that the commission needs a balance of experience and perspective in keeping with the diverse nature of our community, and I have tried to strike that balance with my recent appointments.”
Kerkman said as a result of the new vacancies she would re-open the application process “for anyone who may have missed the last round of applications to also be considered.
“The deadline for applications will be March 17, with appointments to be announced shortly thereafter,” she said.
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