Woman on trial for husband’s 2006 murder takes the stand in own defense
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The 66-year-old widow accused of killing her husband more than a decade ago took the stand Friday morning in her own defense.
Cindy Schulz-Juedes was arrested and charged in December 2019.
Ken Juedes, 58, was found dead Aug. 30, 2006 by his wife, Schulz-Juedes. Investigators said he died of two shotgun wounds. Schulz-Juedes was long considered a person of interest.
The prosecution rested its case Thursday and the defense witnesses began testifying. The defense’s strategy focused on pinning the murder on a group of five people instead of Schulz-Juedes.
Her attorney noted the number of times investigators asked over the years, in a variety of forms, if she killed her husband. She always responded she did not.
“Why did you agree to all of these interviews,” he asked.
“Because I didn’t kill my husband and I wanted to find out, I guess, who did.”
During the first portion of her testimony, questioned by her attorney, she established her history with Juedes and their relationship and their finances to a degree. She also narrated what she remembered the night before, the morning after, and the day after Juedes’ death.
Schulz-Juedes was on the stand from about 11 a.m. to just before 5 p.m. Friday. Much of that time was spent in cross-examination by the prosecution. Marathon County District Attorney, Theresa Wetzsteon question what Schulz-Juedes did or did not do and the logic of her actions.
For example, Wetzsteon pressed about her interactions or lack of interactions with Juedes’ parents. On the day Juedes was found dead, Schulz-Jedes called Juedes’ friend to give him the news, but she did not call Juedes’ mother. Schulz-Juedes’ sister, Pam Ewer who was with Schulz-Juedes shortly after the discovery of the body and for several days after, noted in her testimony that Schulz-Juedes did not want to call Juedes’ mother because she wanted the news to come in person rather than over the phone, so she wanted an officer to deliver that news.
Wetzsteon pressed further about Juedes’ parents. Juedes was cremated. Schulz-Juedes affirmed that she had given some of his remains to the friend she had called the morning of Juedes’ death, but did not give any to his parents. She also confirmed that she had a separate memorial service for Juedes than his parents.
Following Juedes’ death his mother, Margaret Juedes called and left messages several times to Schulz-Juedes about a property they had deeded to their son and Schulz-Juedes. Schulz-Juedes did not return her calls.
Wetzsteon also asked about benefits policies.
“You called National Mutual Benefit, which was a policy in which Edwin Juedes, Ken’s father was the beneficiary, correct?”
“I don’t recall doing it, but I evidently, I did, but I don’t recall that.”
“And on Sept. 13, 2006, you requested that the claim form be mailed to you so that you could help Margaret and Edwin fill it out, correct?”
“I don’t recall that, but if it’s on record, yes.”
Schulz-Juedes also testified that she led the finances in her home and would sign check’s in Juedes’ name on his behalf at times. She also affirmed she signed his name in 2005 on a change of beneficiary policy where she would get 75% of the benefits and one of his children would get 25% in the event of his death. She noted she would have signed it with his permission or under his direction.
Wetzsteon also questioned Schulz-Juedes’ steps before and after she discovered her husband’s body.
Schulz-Juedes has stated she was expecting a foster child they have cared for previously to potentially come to stay at their home the night of Juedes’ murder. Juedes had told law enforcement, why would she plan to kill her husband if that was the case. Wetzsteon said in previous interviews with investigators, Schulz-Juedes had told them that she called the agency not to give them any children that week because she was not feeling well. Schulz-Juedes clarified in her testimony that she had asked that no new foster children be assigned to them at that time.
Wetzsteon questioned why Schulz-Juedes would have heavily medicated herself that night on Aug. 29, 2006, did not set an alarm to be up in the morning, knowing Juedes would be out for work by 8 a.m., and have a “high-risk” child stay at their home and unsupervised. Schulz-Juedes began to say that sometimes Juedes would take the foster children to work with him for half of the day.
When Schulz-Juedes described discovering her husband’s body, she often took a deep breath, including when she was asked by her attorney.
“I remember making my way to the phone. At that point, it felt like I was moving in slow motion.”
After numerous questions from Wetzsteon, her response to what she observed was blunter.
“That it looked like he had been butchered. There was blood all over. I thought I saw his chest rise and fall. I went to get help.”
She also got upset when Wetzsteon asked a similar question later about her first discovery of his body. She did not want to answer, but the judge compelled her to describe. She said it was traumatizing.
Wetzsteon confirmed Schulz-Juedes had CPR training due to her duties as a foster parent and that marked on her calendar was another CPR training two weeks prior. Schulz-Juedes testified that she did not touch her husband after she found him, but she believed she saw his chest moving up and down like he was breathing. She affirmed, however, that she did not give him CPR; she wanted to call for help.
Schulz-Juedes tried both landlines, but she said she did not try her cellphone which only worked in certain areas of the property. She instead went to two neighbors to try to call 9-1-1.
Friday morning, Schulz-Juedes’ sister, Ewer said the couple was perfect and very in love. She met up with Schulz-Juedes at the neighbor’s house where police had her stay for the day.
“Cindy was in the living room and when I walked in, she just had this look on her face, just this hollow—I’ve never seen – just, she was just – she just looked empty. There was just, you know and I said, you know and she’s just like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know,” Ewer said, crying.
Ewer began to cry again when she described what happened when she and her sister got to Ewer’s home where Schulz-Juedes stayed for a few days.
“Just as we got to the top of the steps it flashed on TV a picture of the house and Cindy just started, she was like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. There was so much blood. There was so much blood.’ I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should call an ambulance. I thought I was going to lose my sister forever. I thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown.”
The court addressed arguments about whether to allow Ewer to testify Friday morning and ultimately allowed it. Schulz-Juedes had called Ewer Thursday saying she would not have to testify and that one of the witnesses had lied during their testimony. Ewer did not want to talk about it and had also seen a little bit of the testimony from Thursday on the news because the TV was on near where the phone was. Witnesses under subpoena are not allowed to watch the news about the trial or talk about it until they are released from their subpoena. The judge allowed her to testify, but no questions about Upton were allowed to be asked.
Shortly after Schulz-Juedes got on the stand, the defense addressed what Gary Upton, one of the people the defense is accusing of murdering Juedes, said in his testimony. He said prior to Juedes’ death while he was driving his truck, Schulz-Juedes was walking and he said she looked like she had something to tell him. He stopped the truck and he testified that she said he had a nice truck and asked him if he would want to get married.
“And was that the truth,” Earl Gray, her attorney asked.
“No,” she responded.
“Did you ever make a comment like that?”
Upton was subpoenaed and offered immunity to testify in the case. All witnesses who take the stand are placed under oath.
The court recessed until Monday. The defense is expected to rest its case Monday morning and the prosecution will have the opportunity to bring forward witnesses in rebuttal. The trial could last until Nov. 12.
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