DA mocks Nemnich testimony in closing arguments

Referencing “space aliens” and supernatural powers, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger spent a good portion of his closing argument in Jerry Nemnich’s murder trial mocking Nemnich’s surprise testimony from Friday.

“He’s had 35 years to come up with a story to explain the evidence, and he gave it his best shot,” Hautzinger told the jury during the prosecution’s closing argument.

“He (Nemnich) has stones ... it’s also demonstrably untrue.”

Nemnich’s jury trial went to the jury around 4:30 p.m., following three hours of closing arguments from the defense.

Nemnich, 65, took the witness stand Friday and told jurors he was assaulted by an unknown person with a knife inside Linda Benson’s apartment, before wrestling the weapon away from the assailant and dumping it in the kitchen sink. At that point, he claimed he discovered the body of slain Kelley Ketchum, 5, and Benson’s, before fleeing the scene and telling nobody. The incident the night of July 24, 1975, happened after Nemnich said he met a man at a North Avenue bar, who Nemnich agreed to drive to Chateau Apartments in order to get marijuana.

Prosecutors Friday argued the account was fiction, while Hautzinger hammered the same theme this morning. The DA showed a video of the apartment’s interior, suggesting Nemnich couldn’t have seen Ketchum’s body, which was found lying in a hallway of the apartment, had Nemnich been standing in the kitchen area where he claimed to be; the view blocked by several walls.

Nemnich testified he bled heavily in the apartment after the knife assault. Prosecutors have alleged his DNA profile was matched in eight locations inside the apartment

“Why is the defendant’s DNA underneath her (Linda Benson’s) fingernails?,” Hautzinger asked jurors.

“He’s lucky he got away with murder for 35 years,” Hautzinger said. “His luck ends today.”

Nemnich’s defense has repeatedly attacked the quality of 35-year-old evidence in the case, while highlighting the presence of an unknown male, whose blood was found on a kitchen wall at Benson’s apartment.

“(Nemnich’s) presence at the scene of the crime cannot constitute proof of guilt,” Public defender Daniel King, Nemnich’s attorney, told jurors. “There’s another man in that apartment.”

Nemnich has pleaded not guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, and two counts of felony murder, in the death of Linda Benson, 24, and her daughter, Kelley.

Read the full story in Tuesday’s Daily Sentinel.


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