Emerson Trial Delayed After Problem with Juror Hot-line

A problem with the Marathon County jury hot-line is pushing the James Emerson trial back a few days.

Marathon County Clerk of Court Diane Sennholz tells NewsChannel 7 the Marathon County Jury hot-line had the wrong message, telling potential jurors they would not be needed Monday morning.

Only 19 out of an expected jury pool of 74 showed up.

She says she's calling each potential juror herself to tell them to be on hand Wednesday for Voir Dire, more commonly called jury selection.

Sennholz says opening statements, which were expected on Wednesday have now been pushed back to at least Friday.

The 44-year old Emerson is charged with the 1999 murder of Rhonda Mertes.

The 37-year old single mother was found dead in an abandoned area of downtown Wausau.

Prosecutors say Emerson lured Mertes to the scene from a bar they were at with the promise of drugs, but really intending to sexually assault her.

They say he beat her to death.

Emerson was arrested in 2007 after a tip call and forensic science improved enough to confirm his DNA at the scene.

He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

The jury is being selected in Iowa County in Southwestern Wisconsin because of pre-trail publicity.

They will be brought back to Marathon County for the rest of the trial.

It's expected to last 4 weeks.

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