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Thursday - August 9, 2018 2:59 pm

UPDATE: Suspect in La Crosse woman's murder gets $1 million bond Featured

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Murder suspect Erik Sackett appears in La Crosse County court on Thursday Murder suspect Erik Sackett appears in La Crosse County court on Thursday WIZM News photo

The district attorney’s office in La Crosse believes it has a solid case to charge Erik Sackett with the murder of his former girlfriend, but a defense attorney doubts that. 

Sackett was brought to court Thursday — a day after being charged with killing Erin Somvilai, whose last name was reported as Bushek.

A fisherman found her body June 17 floating in Runge Hollow Lake in Vernon County, according to authorities. It had been weighted down with concrete blocks so it wouldn’t surface.

An autopsy revealed amphetamine and clonazepam in Erin's body. 

Sackett had told others that Somvilai tried to cut her wrists, but there was no evidence of that. 

Sackett was represented Thursday in court by Rachel Krueger, who said there may be a conflict of interest in appointing an attorney for the suspect.

Krueger called the state's case against Sackett "speculative" and “circumstantial.”

“It is very speculative that the reason he would allegedly committed this alleged homicide would be because he wanted to avoid prison,” Krueger told the court. “I'm not sure where exactly that is coming from.”

Sackett had been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison back in April of 2012 for attempted second-degree sexual assault by use of force, battery and other charges.

The 38-year-old, however, was on extended supervision but then jailed June 12 for a two-month sentence, in part, for failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Somvilai and Sackett exchanged many phone calls and messages. He also went to her home a few times on the day she disappeared. All part of the evidence La Crosse County has against Sackett in charging him with Somvilai’s murder.

Sackett suggested Somvilai wanted to kill herself, but prosecutor Susan Donskey said he was tracked driving to Vernon County on June 3 and June 4.

“The defendant was seen at her apt multiple times just prior to her being reported missing,” Donskey said. “He lied to the police about the last time that he had seen her.

“The state has video surveillance of the defendant's truck heading south toward vernon County. And he has a family cabin on a lake.

Sackett bond for the murder charge was set at $1 million Thursday. His attorney wanted it set at $10,000. 

The case will be called again Wednesday, to see whether he's gotten an attorney yet. 

Last modified on Friday - August 10, 2018 2:35 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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