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Suicide theory promoted at La Crosse murder trial

Brad Williams

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In a police video shown in court, murder suspect Erik Sackett is interviewed about a friend's disappearance by La Crosse Police Investigator Andrew Rosenow

Was the death of Erin Somvilai a suicide instead of murder? 

That’s the argument being promoted heavily by the defense in the Erik Sackett trial, being held in La Crosse. 

Click pic to read more on Day 2 of the Sackett murder trial

Sackett is accused of killing Somvilai, his ex-girlfriend, allegedly to keep her from trying to send him back to prison. 

But Sackett’s attorney, Christopher Zachar, says much of the evidence points to Erin being suicidal after finding Sackett with another woman in June of 2018. 

On Tuesday, Zachar read in court from some of the text messages sent by Erin to Sackett before she disappeared.

“I never loved a man more in my life. I’m a hundred per cent genuine. Never, ever, ever forget how you changed my life. I love you till my last breath. Goodbye,” read some of the final texts from Erin to Sackett.

On the witness stand, La Crosse police investigator Andrew Rosenow agreed that those messages might be considered warnings of suicide.

The jury watched a police video of Rosenow questioning Sackett days after Erin’s disappearance.

Somvilai’s body, weighted down with concrete blocks, was found in a Vernon County lake two weeks after she vanished.

Another police video interview of Sackett, shortly after the disappearance, showed him saying he would go look for Erin, and he guessed that maybe she didn’t want to be found.

District attorney Tim Gruenke says the physical evidence doesn’t support the theory of suicide by drowning.  

Rosenow is scheduled to resume testimony on Wednesday morning.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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