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Testimony enters its second week today in the La Crosse, Wisconsin murder trial of Todd Kendhammer. Prosecutors allege he killed his wife, Barbara, then made up a story about a freak car accident to explain his wife’s injuries. The defendant told authorities that a pipe fell off a truck, crashed through the windshield of the car he was driving, and that his wife, who was in the passenger seat, flailed around and was severely injured. Barbara Kendhammer later died at the hospital.
First responders and the state’s key witness, a medical examiner, testified previously. The medical examiner testified she believed the injuries were inconsistent with a pipe strike, but admitted they were similar to the injuries seen before people wore shoulder restraint seatbelts.
On Friday, DNA analyst Kevin Scott testified that Barbara Kendhammer’s DNA was on both sides of the pipe that supposedly crashed through the windshield and that Todd Kendhammer’s DNA was all over the pipe. This evidence is not a surprise, however, because Todd Kendhammer told police that he helped his wife out of the car, then removed the pipe from the windshield while retrieving his phone to call 911.
Nick Stahlke of the state crime lab testified that his study of cracks in the windshield suggests that the pipe struck the windshield twice: once before it created a hole in the windshield and once when it created the hole. He also believes that because glass was located on the passenger seat, no one was sitting in it when the pipe went through the windshield. The defense countered earlier that glass could have fallen from the windshield or been scattered around the car during two separate towing procedures: once from the incident scene to the local police lot and once from the local police lot to the crime lab in Madison some three hours away. Stahlke said no glass was present in the passenger side door pocket, which to him suggested that the door was open when the pipe went through the windshield. On cross, Stahlke said his education and training related to windshield glass was limited to a three-week course during which other materials were also covered.
The state is expected to wrap its case this morning. The defense may call as many as 40 witnesses in the coming days.
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