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Jury in Daniel Lieske homicide case adjourns for night after hearing arguments

January 16, 2019
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Daniel Lieske, left, with his lawyer, Dennis Burke, in court during Lieske's first-degree intentional homicide trial on Tuesday.

A Dane County jury went home Tuesday night without deciding whether a rural Marshall man was justified in shooting a Sun Prairie man to death a year ago or whether he is guilty of some form of homicide.

After hearing closing arguments, the jury of seven women and five men began deliberating the fate of Daniel Lieske, who is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the Jan. 16, 2018, death of Jesse Faber. Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky sent the jury home at 9 p.m. after it had deliberated for about six hours, saying it had put in a long day. The jury will continue talks Wednesday morning.

Lieske, 60, told others that he was acting in self-defense when he shot Faber, 21, claiming that Faber attacked him in an apartment adjoining Lieske’s town of Medina home after the two drank beer together.

Lieske decided Tuesday that he would not testify in his own defense.

Karofsky ruled on Tuesday that if the jury does not find Lieske guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, it could also consider two lesser included charges — second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide.

Faber was at Lieske’s home following a small underage drinking gathering at another building on the Box Elder Road property where Lieske lived with his teenage son, his longtime girlfriend Meichelle Goss, and Goss’ two children.

Lieske and Goss have pleaded guilty to hiding a corpse to conceal a crime.

Lieske’s lawyer, Dennis Burke, said in closing arguments that Lieske killed Faber in self-defense, calling Faber a “live wire” who before that night was unknown to Lieske, but by the early morning hours had attacked him, forcing Lieske to shoot Faber. Both men had been drinking heavily.

“He shot him and intended to kill him,” Burke said. “That’s what he thought he had to do to protect himself and (Goss) and everything they had from this live wire.”

Burke said he didn’t know exactly what caused Faber to attack Lieske. Goss testified about statements Lieske made before and after the shooting, telling jurors that Lieske was “scared, traumatized and distraught,” after the shooting. Burke said Lieske told Goss that Faber tried to grab Lieske’s gun, which Lieske was wearing in a holster.

But prosecutors said the evidence doesn’t back up Lieske’s story, and the measures that Lieske took to cover up the crime — from dumping paint on carpet to hide blood stains to rolling Faber’s body in a rug and stashing it in a storage locker in Rio — showed consciousness of guilt on Lieske’s part.

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, in his closing argument, said despite claiming to have been attacked by Faber, Lieske didn’t call police, which most people do when forced to defend themselves from an attack. It was only after authorities appeared to be figuring out what really happened to Faber that Lieske called Goss’ mother and confessed to killing Faber, after days of lying to investigators who at first thought they were looking for a missing person.

Lieske first said that Faber had stepped out of Lieske’s home for a cigarette and never returned. As the search for Faber came to Lieske’s door, he unlocked buildings on the property for searchers looking for Faber, knowing all the while that he had stashed away Faber’s body, Ozanne said.

Investigators saw no signs of a struggle in the bathroom where Lieske claims that Faber attacked him, Ozanne said, and no signs of injuries on Lieske’s body.

Ozanne also pointed to testimony by Agnieszka Rogalska, Dane County deputy chief medical examiner, who said her autopsy found that Faber first had been shot twice in the back and once in the back of his head, then a fourth time on the front of his body.

“If the defendant wasn’t sure, that fourth one would have definitely allowed him to know he had killed Mr. Faber,” Ozanne said. He also argued that six of the seven shots that Lieske fired struck Faber, demonstrating intent to kill on Lieske’s part.

Burke disputed Rogalska’s testimony, postulating instead that Lieske was firing wildly and rapidly. The first shot, striking a bucket of paint, caused Faber to turn away, exposing his back to Lieske as he continued to fire rapidly, Burke said.

Ozanne, and later Assistant District Attorney Tracy McMiller, defended testimony by Dane County Jail inmate Emmanuel Harris, who said that Lieske had told him in October that he shot Faber after Faber rebuffed his offer of money for sex, then threatened to tell others about the offer. Ozanne said that despite Harris’ many pending criminal charges, he was offered no deal for his testimony.

Burke called Harris’ testimony “one of the most embarrassing performances I’ve seen in a long time. He didn’t say one thing that was truthful.”

“They played that trump card, and that trump card turned out to be a joker,” Burke added.

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