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40-year-old murder trial goes to jury Wednesday

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jun 25, 2019

A murder trial 40 years in the making will to go the jury on Wednesday. 79-year-old John Bayerl is accused of killing his wife Dona Mae in their Muskego home, but her body was never found.

Bayerl’s defense didn’t call on a single witness to testify. They believe prosecutors did not prove he killed Dona Mae beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The state rests your honor,” said Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper.

In a late afternoon surprise to the gallery of the courtroom, the state suddenly rested their case. Bayerl’s defense immediately followed with the same decision.

“Your honor, at this point the defense would move for a directed verdict,” said Bayerl’s lawyer Peter Wolff.

On the night of May 6, 1979, Bayerl told authorities that he and Dona Mae got into an argument. He claims she took off and was never seen again.

When police searched their Muskego home, former officer David Wolfgram claims they found blood spatter on a wall and a bottle in the garage.

“There was a crime scene at that garage,” Wolfgram said.

Bayerl admitted to beating and cheating on his wife, but he denied having anything to do with her disappearance.

As decades passed and technology improved, forensic scientists were able to match Dona Mae’s DNA to that blood in 2018. While the match was partial, state crime lab analyst Ronald Witucki said the odds the blood could have belonged to someone else are highly improbable.

“Doing a statistical calculation, we determined we would expect to see it about every one in 12 billion people that you would type,” he said.

Judge Brad Schimel ended Tuesday’s testimony by saying the evidence presented could be taken more than one way.

“When we look at the evidence collected from inside the garage, it could be that the blood evidence there came from a struggle that occurred that night, it could be from something else,” Schimel said.

Schimel said it’s also possible that Dona Mae left the residence and was abducted by someone else who caused her harm. That will be up to the jury to decide on Wednesday.