Trial begins for Janesville man accused of attacking two people with an ax

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Andrea Anderson
Monday, January 27, 2014

JANESVILLE — Rock County Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan said a Janesville man who attacked two people with an ax had one intention: to kill.

Assistant Public Defender Valerie Zisman said the defendant, Jeffrey Starkman, never intended to kill anyone.

The three-day trial for Starkman, 35, of 2521 Bond Place, began Monday afternoon in Rock County Court. He is accused of attacking his ex-girlfriend, Katrina Patrick, and her friend Jonathan Barthel with an ax at Patrick's Main Street apartment in April 2013.

The defense and prosecution agreed on some of the facts. Both said Starkman was provoked by the fact that Patrick had invited Barthel to her home.

Patrick had told Starkman that Barthel, a friend from high school, was going to drive her to Illinois to purchase a used car, Zisman told the jury during her opening statement.

Starkman was suspicious and went back to the house, where he saw Patrick on the porch in a robe and Barthel upstairs through a window "in boxers and no shirt," Zisman said.

Starkman became "angry and distraught," Zisman said, grabbed what she called a shingling hammer and approached Patrick on the porch.

Using his right hand, which is his non-dominant hand, Starkman struck Patrick twice in the head with the ax to "get her out of the way" before going upstairs to the bedroom where he'd seen Barthel, Zisman said.

Upstairs, Starkman hit Barthel in the head with the ax and "continues to swing that roofing hammer again and again, at least three times in the head of Mr. Barthel," Sullivan said.

Zisman didn't argue Starkman didn't commit a crime, but she disagreed with the prosecution about Starkman's intent.

"Evidence will show Jeffrey may have done some pretty bad things, but he never intended to kill," Zisman said.

Zisman emphasized that Starkman used his non-dominant hand, stopped attacking Patrick and Barthel before they were dead and cooperated with Janesville police once they arrived at a Beloit gas station after a pursuit. 

Patrick and Barthel had emergency surgeries at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center that night, Sullivan said.

In May, Starkman pleaded not guilty to six charges, including two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery, attempting to flee an officer and burglary.

He is in custody on a $335,000 cash bond, according to online court records.

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