In 1998, Julie Jensen was found dead in the Pleasant Prairie home she shared with her husband, Mark Jensen, and their two children. Initially the death was thought to be a suicide, however in 2007 Mark Jensen was put on trial for first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly poisoning his wife with antifreeze. In February 2008, Jensen was sentenced to life in prison at the Kenosha County, WI Courthouse.
On Tuesday, September 8 of this year, Jensen won an appeal overturning his conviction for the death of his wife, however according to news reports he remains in prison while prosecutors decide whether to retry him for the death of Julie Jensen.
At issue was the admission of a handwritten note from Jensen’s wife that was improperly accepted into evidence, according to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The note said, “if anything happens to me, he would be my first suspect.” Appeals court judges, in a 2-1 decision, said that use of the letter by prosecutors violated the defendant’s constitutional right to face his accusers. The letter was written two weeks prior to Julie’s death, according to news reports.
Prosecutors in the case said that Jensen searched for methods to kill his wife on the Internet that would make her death appear to be a suicide, and that he wanted to make room for his mistress.
The ruling by the appeals court gives the state 90 days to move to retry Jensen, or release him; he is currently lodged at Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, WI.
This is one instance in which a federal appeals court did overturn a murder conviction, due to the fact that the court agreed the defendant’s constitutional right was violated. While having a conviction overturned or thrown out by an appeals court does not happen often, it does happen when there are solid grounds to support such a decision.
If you have been wrongly convicted or feel your rights have been violated, speak with a seasoned Michigan criminal appeals attorney who will thoroughly review your case to help determine whether you may be successful in appealing a conviction or sentencing. Being found guilty of a crime isn’t necessarily the end of the road; there may be other options.