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Wisconsin Man Guilty In Retrial Of Antifreeze Poisoning Of Wife Who Penned ‘Letter From The Grave’

"I'm suspicious of Mark's suspicious behavior and fear for my early demise,” Julie Jensen wrote in a letter days before she died of ethylene glycol poisoning in 1998.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Wisconsin man was convicted this week for a second time in the "ghastly" 1998 murder of his wife, who died of antifreeze poisoning. 

Mark Jensen, 63, was originally convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2008 for murdering his wife, Julie Jensen. A letter his dead wife wrote shortly before her death, implicating him in her murder — and which had been a crucial piece of evidence in the case — however, was found to have violated his right to a fair trial in 2021. His conviction was subsequently vacated by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

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Jensen's retrial had opened in January. A jury deliberated for approximately six hours before returning a guilty verdict on Wednesday, Milwaukee television station WTMJ-TV reported.

On Dec. 3, 1998, police found Julie lying face down and unresponsive on a bed in the couple’s bedroom. Toxicology results later revealed that Julie died from ethylene glycol poisoning, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com

Mark Jensen is led out of the courtroom in handcuffs

"Somebody committed a ghastly crime here," Deputy District Attorney Carli McNeill said in court on Tuesday. "This year is the 25th year stolen from Julie Jensen."

Prosecutors had contended that Mark had gradually poisoned Julie using a mixture of antifreeze and sleeping pills before suffocating her with a pillow, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Mark Jensen is one of the most brutally cold-blooded people I've ever seen in my life," said special prosecutor Bob Jambois, Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT-TV reported. "To lay next to his wife at night as she's gasping for breath, gasping to live, but trying to live as he then listens to her, waiting for her to die."

Days before her death, Julie gave a letter implicating her husband in her suspected murder to a neighbor, according to court documents. In the note, Julie acknowledged she’d had an affair with another man years earlier.

"... if anything happens to me, [Mark] would be my first suspect," Julie wrote. "Our relationship has deteriorated to the polite superficial ... I would never take my life because of my kids — they are everything to me!"

The Wisconsin woman delivered the note on Nov. 21 of 1998. She died on Dec. 3.

"I pray I am wrong and nothing happens,” the note added. “But I'm suspicious of Mark's suspicious behavior and fear for my early demise."

Julie’s neighbor ultimately turned the “letter from the grave” over to authorities.

the late Julie Jensen

"I believe that [the] Wisconsin court of Wisconsin Supreme Court got this issue wrong," Jambois also said, per WDJT-TV. "I think victims have a right to be heard in court."

Over the years, Mark had long-denied killing his spouse.

"We are very disappointed in the jury’s verdict," his lawyers wrote in a statement sent to Oxygen.com on Friday afternoon. "Mark Jensen is innocent. We will continue to have hope that one day, that truth will be realized. There will be an appeal of this verdict. While that process occurs, we are refraining from further comment." 

At trial, Mark’s defense team had argued vigorously that Julie had died by suicide. 

"Mark Jensen did not kill his wife," lawyer Jeremy Perri also said during closing statements, according to WTMJ. "We know this from the science, we know this from what Julie Jensen told her physician."

The suicide theory was supported by a forensic pathologist the defense called, who had reviewed the medical examiner’s findings in the case.

“It’s my opinion there’s no evidence of either of those, either homicidal suffocation or strangulation,” Dr. Lindsay Thomas told the court last month, the Kenosha News reported. “It is my opinion that positional asphyxia could have occurred if her face was in a pillow.” Positional asphyxia happens when the position that someone is in stops them from being able to breathe normally.

“I couldn’t come up with an exact cause [of death] though I certainly think the ethylene glycol played a significant role,” Thomas testified in Kenosha County Circuit Court. “I don’t believe there’s conclusive evidence that her death was a homicide.”

Mark’s sentencing is scheduled for April 14.

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