A 33-year-old Merrill woman accused of trying to hire a friend to kill her boyfriend was bound over for trial in Marathon County Court Thursday.
Jessica Strom is charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder. She entered a not guilty plea to the charge Thursday.
Strom allegedly approached a male friend in late February with a proposal to kill her boyfriend, who also lives in Merrill. The friend declined to commit the murder and informed police. Police set up and sting operation using him as a confidential informant. He told Strom he had reconsidered and arranged to meet with her at a downtown Wausau restaurant Feb. 27. That meeting was video and audio recorded by police.
At the preliminary hearing Friday, a judge heard testimony from Wausau Police Department detective Jennifer Holz, who had been in the restaurant during the meeting between Strom and the confidential informant. During that conversation, Holz said, Strom suggested that the informant commit the murder at her boyfriend’s Merrill home office. She drew maps of the prospective victim’s neighborhood and a diagram of his home office. She also suggested that the informant set up a bogus appointment with the boyfriend to gain access to him.
The informant asked Strom why she didn’t just walk away from the relationship and she told him, Holz said, that she wouldn’t be satisfied (with just walking away).
At the close of the conversation in the restaurant, Strom told the informant to call her if he “chickened out.” She suggested they meet in a month at her house, where she would pay him $1,000 and have sex with him.
Wausau Police obtained a search warrant for Strom’s Merrill home and recovered the diagrams of her boyfriend’s neighborhood and home.
Defense attorney John Runyon implied that the informant and Strom had a previous sexual relationship. He also argued that the state’s evidence doesn’t show anything beyond mere talk.
The judge found probable cause to bind the case over for trial. He also refused to amend Strom’s $250,000 cash bond. Runyon asked that bond be modified to $100,000 cash and $150,000 signature.