A Columbia County judge postponed a homicide trial after questions were raised about the analysis of some evidence by the Wisconsin Crime Lab.
Judge Alan White has delayed the trial of Leah Jean Waldhart, who’s accused of killing her boyfriend, Curtis Wylesky of Beaver Dam, in 2001. She pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree intentional homicide in June.
Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said prosecutors recently discovered “issues” with several pieces of evidence that were supposed to have been analyzed by the crime lab.
The Portage Daily Register reported Kohlwey told the judge during a hearing Monday that fingerprint evidence is being held for review by the crime lab to assess the performance of a particular investigator. The lab also has not completed analysis of some DNA evidence.
Kohlwey said she “extremely reluctantly” asked to delay the trial because it can’t begin “when neither the prosecution nor the defense has seen all of the evidence.” The trial was scheduled to start Feb. 2.
White called the crime lab’s delays “an egregious violation of due process.”
“This is totally inexcusable,” White said. “Don’t they know that the evidence makes a life-and-death difference for all involved, including the victim’s family and the defendant?”
Wisconsin Department of Justice spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said the evidence wasn’t submitted to the lab until late last week and early this week.
“It is neither practical nor scientifically possible to have completed the DNA or fingerprint analysis of those items prior to the hearing on Monday morning,” Schwartz wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
The investigation of Wylesky’s death was reopened in 2012. His body was found in a ditch outside Fall River in April 2001. An autopsy originally said he died of cocaine toxicity, but defense attorney Amanda Riek said prosecutors have not clarified why it had since been ruled a homicide.