Arguments are expected to wrap up Tuesday morning in the murder trial for Drew Mangler, who is charged with killing James Remakel of Bellevue in December 2016.
Defense attorney Derek Jones said prosecutors had made, “at best,” a case that Mangler was at Remakel’s house at some point at or after his death. The defense asked for the case to be dismissed, a motion Judge Joel Barrows denied.
The defense also argued that police didn’t adequately investigate other suspects in the case, including a “trashpicker” who had items in his home that he told police came from Remakel’s garbage.
Dale Holdgrafer of Spragueville testified that he had posted something on Facebook that he was responsible for the “Bellevue murder.” He told jurors Monday that he did not kill Remakel and did not know Remakel. He said he made the Facebook statement because he was angry at law enforcement and the court system. Prosecutor Amanda Lassance said Holdgrafer had made other “fantastical” statements via Facebook as well.
The defense also called witnesses whose testimony did not align with the prosecution’s version of events.
Mangler’s family members testified that he acted normally at multiple family Christmas functions that year, including one on the day after prosecutors say Mangler killed Remakel.
Bellevue Pharmacy employee LouAnn Scheckel tried to make a pharmacy delivery to Remakel on Dec. 20 and said she didn’t notice anything “out of the ordinary.” She said she didn’t see the tipped-over television or bloodstains that investigators found after Remakel’s body was found Dec. 25.
Last week, the prosecution laid out its argument that Mangler attacked Remakel Dec. 19, 2016.
Bellevue Police Officer Brent Roling told jurors that Laverne Jackson called the police that night to say Mangler had burst into her home unwanted and unannounced. A few hours later, Roling talked to Mangler and his friends as they attempted to dig Raleigh Perkins’ car out of a snowbank.
Mangler’s friends, Brady Hutchcroft and Perkins, testified that they were with Mangler Dec. 19. Many of the details are fuzzy, they said, but they recalled Mangler leaving them at some point that evening and later rejoining them.
Perkins also testified that he saw Mangler with a large wad of cash with him that night. Perkins spread his thumb and forefinger a couple inches wide to show the size of the stack of folded bills. Perkins was intoxicated at the time, he said.
Prosecutors showed video of Hutchcroft and Mangler buying a snowboard at a pawn shop the next day, as well as playing roulette at the Diamond Jo casino in Dubuque.
Remakel’s body was found Dec. 25, when a friend tried to deliver Christmas dinner to him. Bellevue Police Officer Josh Kilburg was one of the officers who responded to the scene.
“I immediately noticed the overwhelming smell of death and decay,” Kilburg said.
Deputy state medical examiner Jonathan Thompson performed the autopsy on Remakel’s body. He said that most of the 32 stab wounds to Remakel’s body only punctured the skin. Only one punctured an organ.
Remakel died of excessive blood loss as a result of the wounds and did not die immediately, Thompson said.
The jury has only heard Mangler’s voice in audio recordings, at first almost drowned out by the blare of the television in his father’s Scales Mound, Illinois, home, where agents interviewed Mangler on the first day of the investigation.
At the time, Mangler wasn’t a suspect. Agents just wanted to learn more about the victim, and Mangler had helped Remakel with some household work in the past.
Mangler said he met Remakel through a help ad in the newspaper. Remakel was disabled and suffered severe back problems.
The break in the case came nearly 16 months later, when police got a search warrant for shoes with tread matching impressions left at the scene.
The shoes found at Mangler’s home matched tracks made at the scene inside Remakel’s home. On the shoe’s tongue was a bloodstain with a DNA profile matching Remakel’s, according to agents from the Department of Criminal Investigation.
Prosecutors played a recording of an interview with Mangler conducted in Special Agent Derek Riessen’s car immediately before police searched Mangler’s home.
During that interview, Mangler repeatedly told Riessen that he had nothing to do with Remakel’s death. Riessen urged him to share anything he might know about a situation that could have gotten out of hand.
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