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Reliability of dog-sniffing questioned in Sackett murder case

Brad Williams

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Murder suspect Erik Sackett sits with his attorney, Christopher Zachar, before a court hearing in La Crosse on Wednesday

How reliable are police dogs in checking out crime scenes?

The defense in a La Crosse murder case is casting doubt on dog sniffing, as it prepares for an October trial.

During a day-long court hearing Wednesday for murder suspect Erik Sackett, police dog handlers testified that using trained dogs to sniff evidence provides information for police, but it does not offer probable cause in murder cases.

One witness, Carren Corcoran of Madison, said she did not see human remains at a site where dogs were used to investigate the death of Erin Somvilai, Sackett’s ex-girlfriend.

Sackett’s attorney hopes to have some dog-sniff evidence blocked at the trial.

Sackett is accused of killing his former girlfriend in June of 2018 and putting her weighted down body in a lake.

Police dogs were used to sniff for evidence at different locations connected to the murder.

Judge Elliott Levine is expected to rule on the admission of the K-9 evidence at another motion hearing next week.