Mark Bucki takes the stand in own defense
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:30 PM
The jury will begin deliberating later today to decide the guilt or innocence of Mark Bucki, accused of killing his wife, Anita, and hiding her body. The trial wraps up with afternoon with closing arguments from both prosecution and defense. A 12-member jury will be sequestered once deliberations begin.
During the first week of the trial, the jury heard testimony from a number of prosecution witnesses. The picture painted by the prosecution shows Mark killing his wife to get out of a floundering marriage so he could move on with a new girlfriend.
While unable to produce concrete forensic evidence, the prosecution presented a great deal of circumstantial evidence that they say points to Mark as Anita’s killer.
The defense attempted to cast doubt on the state’s case by pointing out the lack of damning forensic evidence.
Taking the stand in his own defense Tuesday morning, Mark Bucki denied causing any harm to Anita. He denied the prosecution's claims that he strangled and stabbed his wife, hauling her body around their property in an ATV trailer, then putting her in the back of his pickup truck and dumping the body along a rural road.
During his testimony Tuesday morning, Bucki explained his activities that the prosecution has characterized as him covering up a crime.
For example, the removal of a large section of carpet from a spare bedroom: The prosecution has inferred that this is where Anita was killed and Mark removed the carpet and burned it to destroy evidence. Mark said he tore out the carpet the day after Anita moved out of the home on April 13, 2013. A large computer hutch, which Anita took with her, had been covering that area. With the hutch gone, he took out the carpet because a former pet cat had urinated in that spot. He said he started burning the carpet on April 25, the day before he reported Anita missing.
Mark said he had been burning a lot of the things Anita had left behind since she moved out April 13.
With regard to a section of "disturbed earth" on the bucki property, mark said he "never, ever" dug there and denied that he was digging a grave.
Mark said he and Anita started talking about separating in spring 2012. Mark said the romance had gone out of their marriage and they were "living like roommates." They had planned to separate in the fall of 2013.
Mark said he met his girlfriend, Angie, at the optometrist’s office in Merrill where she worked in early April 2013. He found out she was having trouble with her marriage and he asked her to contact him. They became friends, he said.
“Angie wanted a divorce and I already knew Anita was leaving,” Mark said.
Mark said he never lied to Anita about Angie and told her than he planned to pursue a relationship with her.
Once Anita moved to Minnesota to live with their son, she and Mark exchanged emails. Anita wanted to get back together, Mark did not.
“I really believe we don’t have a chance anymore,” Mark wrote in one email. “I’m tried out.”
Anita only stayed in Minnesota for one week before moving back to Wisconsin and staying with a friend in Wausau. She came to the Bucki home on Wegner Road on April 21. Mark called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department to see if she could be forced to leave. He was told she could legally be there; they had a short conversation and she left.
Mark said he and Anita had some contact over the next week, and he invited her to come to the house again on April 25. The plan, Mark said, was for Anita to stay overnight and then go to one of his sisters’ houses the next day and stay there for a while.
Mark said he and Anita talked that night and he thought they had come to an understanding about their marriage.
“I hugged her two or three times that night while she was crying,” Mark said. “I went to bed around midnight, I thought everything was good.”
When Mark woke up at around 5 a.m., he noticed Anita was not there. He took the dog outside and looked around the property for Anita, he said.
“I wasn’t really too concerned,” he said. “She’s wandered off or drove off before for a few hours at a time.”
He did say that Anita had sent him some texts recently that seemed suicidal.
Angie came over to the Bucki house that day and after she left, Mark said he burned more items in the burn barrel and walked the property looking for Anita.
Mark was injured on the job in 2010 and hadn’t worked since 2011. By the spring of 2013 money was tight. Mark had a pending worker’s compensation claim, any proceeds from which he said he and Anita planned to use to pay off some debt before divorcing.
He denied knowing the details of her life insurance policy until after she went missing. Mark later wrote a letter to Angie stating they could live off the life insurance proceeds and the worker’s compensation settlement.
The prosecution noted Mark’s seeming lack of interest in the case while Anita was missing. He only contacted law enforcement when he needed his medication from the house and to ask about getting his cell phone back. Mark explained that he assumed law enforcement would contact him with any news.
“I figured they’d tell me,” he said. “I don’t believe in pestering.”
Special prosecutor Richard DuFour had Mark read a letter he had written to Angie from jail after his arrest. The letter read, in part, “My to-be happiest summer turned to my worst because of Anita.”
Mark Bucki reported Anita missing from their town of Corning home on April 26, 2013. Her body was discovered about 20 miles away in the swamp along Cty. C in Taylor County May 10. He was arrested and charged with her murder on May 13.