Testimony begins for man accused in Thief River Falls killing
THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – Six witnesses, including the husband of a Thief River Falls woman killed last Aug., have taken the stand on the first day of the murder trial of Jedidiah Troxel, the man accused of killing Tanya Kazmierczak.
Jeff Kazmierczak, Tanya’s husband of 21 years, was the first to testify in Pennington County Judge Don Aandal's courtroom Tuesday. The man whose wife was found stabbed to death near the Smiley Bridge in Thief River Falls on Aug. 26, 2012, was asked by Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Schieferdecker to recall the night before, when the couple drank with neighbors in the Greendale Trailer Park.
Jeff Kazmierczak told a jury of seven men and seven women he last saw his wife at the home of a friend about 3 a.m. that day.
Jurors also heard testimony from the man who discovered Tanya Kazmierczak's body, Chris Siefert, a 30-year-old welder who was fishing near Smiley Bridge on the morning of Aug. 26.
Also shown to the jury were autopsy photos of Tanya Kazmierczak’s badly bruised body, including some of the 11 stab wounds to her chest, one of which punctured her heart, killing the mother of three.
Jeff Kazmierczak was joined in court by his three children, Matthew, 21, Jordan, 19 and Katelynn, 14.
Prosecutors will rely on testimony from investigators who have put Troxel at the crime scene by matching a circular marking with the word "Survivor" on the soles of boots he was allegedly wearing with a similar marking found imprinted in mud near where the woman’s body was found. Prosecutors say boots belong to Troxel are among several pieces of physical evidence jurors will be able to consider in their deliberations.
Troxel told investigators he wasn’t wearing the boots that day, Schieferdecker said. The prosecution will try to prove Troxel was wearing the boots by showing surveillance video from two Thief River Falls' stores he allegedly visited the night before and morning of the crime.
Investigators are also expected to testify that Tanya Kazmierczak's blood was found in Troxel’s car and on a shirt prosecutors say he was wearing at the time.
The charge which Troxel faces – first-degree murder involving criminal sexual conduct – carries a maximum penalty of life without parole.
According to Schieferdecker, DNA also supports the criminal sexual element of the charge.