After Judge Jay Tlusty denied a motion from Mark Bucki’s defense attorneys to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence, the defense started calling its witnesses in the murder trial Monday morning.
Defense attorney James Lex said that after five days of testimony from prosecution witnesses, there is no solid evidence linking Mark Bucki to the murder of his wife, Anita. Mark Bucki reported his wife missing from their town of Corning home on April 26, 2013, and her body was found about 20 miles away in Taylor County on May 10.
“There is no forensic evidence tying him to the disappearance and death of his wife,” Lex said.
In arguing against the motion to dismiss, Lincoln County District Attorney Don Dunphy said the state only needs to present evidence that “raises a reliable inference” the jury can use to reach a verdict. Dunphy said it is obvious that Anita Bucki was murdered and the state has presented “sufficient evident pointing to the identity of the perpetrator as the defendant, Mark Bucki.”
“There is enough circumstantial evidence from which a jury could infer that the defendant is the person who killed the victim,” Dunphy said.
Lex said the alerts by cadaver dogs at the Bucki property “uncorroborated.” The defense called witnesses from the State Crime Lab Monday morning who testified that the evidence they examined in the case did not prove Mark Bucki killed his wife. Under cross examination by special prosecutor Richard DuFour, they noted that the evidence does not rule him out as the killer, either.
Raymond Lenz, a forensic scientist with the State Crime Lab in Milwaukee testified that evidence recovered from an ATV trailer, burn barrel and Mark Bucki’s truck was inconclusive.
Bart Naugel, a Crime Lab DNA analyst, examined many items from the Bucki home looking for blood or DNA. He found the possible presence of blood on an ATV, ATV trailer and boot, but was unable to determine whether it was even human blood. No DNA samples could be obtained from any of the items.
Under cross examination, Naugel agreed that nothing he examined either includes or excludes Mark Bucki as the person who killed Anita Bucki.
Anna Schmitz, a crime scene analyst with the State Crime Lab, said nothing of evidentiary value was found in an area of disturbed earth behind the Bucki residence. The site was excavated by the crime lab after cadaver dogs alerted on the area. A search for blood stains in the house turned up nothing that tested positive for human blood. In the basement, they found a hat and a pair of pants with stains that tested “presumptive positive” for blood. No stains in the truck came back positive for blood. A number of swabs from the ATV and ATV trailer tested positive for blood, but it could not be determined whether it was human blood, Schmitz testified.
In the bedroom with a large section of missing carpet, a bottle of cleaner was found, Schmitz said. That type of cleaner is known to destroy DNA and is typically used to disinfect and remove blood and body fluids from hard surfaces, Schmitz said. She added that the Crime Lab uses that same cleaner to sterilize hard surfaces.
Mark Bucki is expected to testify Tuesday. Following closing arguments, the case is expected to go to the jury late Tuesday. Jurors will be sequestered once deliberations begin and will not be allowed to go home until they reach a verdict.