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Sackett jury to get murder case on Halloween

Brad Williams

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DA Tim Gruenke questions Tomah police officer Wilbert Steinborn, formerly of the La Crosse PD, about his role in the Erik Sackett investigation

The witness phase of the Erik Sackett murder trial in La Crosse came to a quick end Wednesday morning, so closing arguments and the start of jury deliberations are set for Thursday.

The prosecution called five witnesses, who spent a total of about 25 minutes on the stand.

They included police and citizens, to provide statements about whether presumed murder victim Erin Somvilai was still alive on or after June 4 of last year.

One woman had told police she thought Somvilai was asking for money outside the West Avenue Walgreen’s after June 3.

The defense disputes a theory that Somvilai was killed by Sackett, and suggests instead that she committed suicide at a Vernon County lake sometime between June 3-17.

Judge Elliott Levine sent the jury home after the brief court session.

The judge denied another defense motion to declare a directed acquittal, saying that at this point, the jury should decide Sackett’s fate.