Medical Examiner, Crime Lab Investigators Testify at Emerson Trial

By: WSAW Staff
By: WSAW Staff

The second day of testimony in the James Emerson murder trial is now complete. Monday, the state called eight people to the stand at the Marathon County Courthouse.

Emerson is accused of beating 37-year-old Rhonda Mertes to death to prevent her from reporting a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault in 1999.

Much of the testimony the jury heard was about keeping track of evidence to make sure it is not lost or tampered with. Because the crime happened nearly a decade ago, it is an important part of the state's case.

An investigator from the State Crime Lab detailed to the jury how she made sure evidence was under supervision or under lock and key.

The County Medical Examiner did the same about the victim's body, which is considered evidence until it is released to the funeral home. He also told the jury of the autopsy's findings of how Rhonda Mertes died.

"The manner of death was homicide with blunt force trauma to the head and neck with injuries consistant with strangulation," says Medical Examiner John Larson.

Also presented was a transcript from a deposition for a bar owner who told police both Rhonda and Emerson were in his business until closing the night before she was found dead.

To recap testimony from a rare Saturday session of court, the state unveiled what is believed to be the murder weapon, a large blood covered chunk of cement that was found next to the body.

The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow with several more witnesses taking the stand.

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