The jury found Erik Sackett not guilty of killing Erin Somvilai Thursday afternoon.
Sackett was accused of killing Somvilai in June of 2018 when her body was found in a lake.
Before entering deliberation, the jury heard closing arguments from both the Prosecution and the Defense.
The Prosecution said that the Defense was throwing both the options of Somvilai taking her own life and Dr. David Onsrud being an alternative suspect as a way to distract the jury from the real murderer– Sackett.
While the Defense spent a good amount of time defining reasonable doubts, the defense attorney illustrated all the doubts in the case with a deck of cards.
“Well, it was a metaphor for the burden of proof,” said Chris Zachar, defense attorney. “On the fact that proof beyond a reasonable doubt requires the jury to eliminate all reasonable doubts and in fact take all of those cards and put them back on the deck, unless you don’t have that, you have to find a person not guilty.”
“Obviously the family is disappointed, but they understand how the process works and we respect the jury’s verdict,” said District Attorney Tim Gruenke. “[I] thought it was a tough case, but one worth putting in front of a jury and they feel like they were treated fairly through the system, but of course disappointed with the outcome.”
The Defense says Sackett and his family are relieved and look forward to getting their son and brother back soon.
For now, Sackett remains in jail as he is still serving time for a violation of his supervision.
Once he finishes that sentence, he is free to go
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX) – Erik Sackett: Not guilty. The jury came to the not guilty verdict late Thursday afternoon.
The defense had originally rested its case before calling 5 more witnesses to the stand to testify Wednesday. The State defense then rested, allowing the jury to convene and deliberate on Thursday to determine their verdict.
Erik Sackett is accused of killing Erin Somvilai in June of 2018. The Defense has been arguing that Somvilai may have taken her own life.
According to the criminal complaint, she had been tied down by concrete blocks, and was found in a Vernon County lake. The autopsy reports Somvilai died due to homicidal violence.
The Defense says this is a “who done it” case and they’re presenting two suspects, neither of them Sackett.
The Defense says Somvilai’s doctor, David Onsrud, could be a suspect based on a relationship the Defense says the two had. But, the Prosecution says while Onsrud admitted to a fetish, he said their relationship was not sexual.
The Defense says Onsrud may also be a suspect due to statements he made to police after her disappearance.
“‘Are you worried she walked down to the river and drowned?’ and he repeated that mantra repeatedly as he was interviewed throughout this case,” Zachar said. “‘My greatest fear is that she walked down to the river and drowned’ and low and behold Erin was found in a body of water, with no visible or detectable injuries at autopsy, wrapped in rope as Dr. Onsrurd practiced, exactly how he had predicted.”
The other theory the Defense presented was that Somvilai committed suicide.
According to the criminal complaint, Somvilai sent Sackett numerous text messages threatening suicide. She was upset over Sackett’s new girlfriend.