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Witnesses recall woman's fears, final contacts

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Jessica Stephen/Kenosha News
August 26, 2009
— Weeks before her disappearance, Dawn Brossard said she wanted to leave her marriage but feared her husband might kill himself, a witness testified Tuesday.

James Tostrud, 47, of Kenosha, said he didn't know Dawn Brossard was married when he began seeing her in September 1997. After three dates, he learned that Dawn, 29, was married and ended their contact.


After avoiding her phone calls for a week, Tostrud spoke to Dawn, who explained she wanted a divorce, but her husband would not give her one.


"She seemed very concerned," Tostrud said. "She said that when she asked her husband for a divorce, the following day she found their wedding pictures strewn about."


Her wedding gown, a gun and a note reading "Death do us part" also were out, said Tostrud, who denied involvement in Dawn Brossard's death.


Authorities later talked to Tostrud about Dawn Brossard's disappearance on Oct. 24, 1997. Her body was found chained and weighted in Geneva Lake in July 2003. Her husband, David Brossard, 41, of Burlington, was charged for her murder in September 2008. His trial began last week.


Prosecutor Phillip Koss and defense attorney Charles Blumenfield disagreed about whether Tostrud should testify. They debated for nearly a half-hour, without jurors, before Judge James L. Carlson decided Tostrud and another man could testify about the wedding dress incident.


Because of that decision, Koss did not call a third man to testify about the same story.


Blumenfield strongly objected to that third witness because of his suspected connection to Frederick Tubbin, a man with whom Dawn was involved when she disappeared.


Blumenfield did not discuss specifics of the man's potential testimony because he worried jurors could learn of it; jurors were not present for the discussion and are banned from media reports during trial.


Blumenfield said he was troubled that the man did not mention talking with Dawn about the wedding dress incident when interviewed by authorities in 1997.


Blumenfield suggested the man called investigators in 2003, apparently after Dawn's body was found, to protect Tubbin, who testified earlier this week.


Lawyers spent much of the morning going through a minute-by-minute account of calls made Oct. 24, 1997, the day Dawn Brossard disappeared, and Oct. 25, 1997, the day her car was found outside the Burlington bank where she worked.


The calls included numbers dialed from Dawn's cell phone and the bank to party and rental stores, as well as two former lovers, her own home and her husband's cell phone. Records did not indicate who made the calls, but investigators believe they were placed by Dawn Brossard.


The color-coded timeline prepared by Walworth County Sheriff's Detective John Ennis also includes calls to and from Dawn Brossard's home with David Brossard. Calls also were catalogued to and from Action Marine, where David Brossard worked.


Phone records tracking calls for Tubbin and others through the end of 1997 also were discussed, but they were not included in the chart.


While questioning Ennis, Blumenfield repeatedly asked whether Tubbin had tried to call Dawn Brossard after she disappeared.


Records show Tubbin had not tried to call Dawn Brossard after her disappearance or in the weeks before, Ennis said.


Tubbin, who admitted a romantic relationship with Dawn, testified Tuesday that he and his two sons had plans with Dawn to go trick-or-treating. Former bartender Kathy Funk, a friend of Tubbin's, testified Tuesday about those same plans.


Funk also told jurors how Tubbin was "concerned" that Dawn Brossard had not returned numerous phone calls he made to her on Oct. 25, 1997.


Tubbin did not bring his sons over to go trick-or-treating with Funk's children. Shortly after that, Funk said, Tubbin left town. A sheriff's investigator testified that Tubbin actually moved several months after Dawn Brossard disappeared.


On Monday, Tubbin denied having anything to do with her death.


Editor's note: The Kenosha News, Racine Journal-Times and Janesville Gazette are teaming up to cover the trial of David Brossard in Elkhorn. Each day, each newspaper will carry shared coverage of the trial, and information also will be available at the papers' Web sites.

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