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Defense begins case after judge refuses to dismiss charges

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Jessica Stephen
August 27, 2009
— David Brossard’s defense began Wednesday with a quick succession of witnesses, including a Burlington grocer who thought he saw Dawn Brossard after she reportedly disappeared.

Wilhalmus Jansen testified he saw Dawn Brossard at his Beachview Grocery store, near Bohners Lake, on Oct. 26, 1997, two days after she was reportedly seen leaving a Burlington bank with her husband, David Brossard.


Jansen couldn’t remember much about seeing Dawn 12 years ago and said he could be wrong about the date. But he verified a statement he gave to police on Oct. 29, 1997, which says he thought he saw Dawn about 4 p.m. Oct. 26, after the noon Dallas Cowboys football game.


Jansen said he told Dawn her favorite beer was on sale, but did not ring up her sale, if she had one. Jansen told police Dawn was wearing a brown skirt, white blouse and that her hair was shorter with tighter curls than her usual shoulder length hair.


Jurors also heard Wednesday about $1,000 in cash missing from the State Financial Bank branch in Burlington, where Dawn Brossard worked.


A former bank president said there was no way to know if the money was taken or missing because of a clerical error. The variance was found after Dawn Brossard was reported missing.


Former bank customer Gina Bettinger said Dawn Brossard once stopped by her home, unannounced on a weekend, to discuss $500 missing from Bettinger’s account.


Bettinger thought it was strange that Dawn asked to make copies of her bank records and that, when she returned, Dawn Brossard “reeked” of alcohol.


Dawn Brossard disappeared “a couple of days” later, Bettinger said.


Peter Palermo testified that Frederick Tubbin, Dawn Brossard’s lover before she disappeared, once asked him to find the deepest part of Geneva Lake. Palermo remembered using a fishing guide to find the location during a midnight fishing trip in the summer of 1997, although, he said, it might have happened a year or two before.


Dawn’s body was found weighted and chained in July 2003 in an area considered the deepest part of the lake.


Brian Brossard told jurors he demanded to see his brother, who was being questioned, after an officer said investigators “knew” David Brossard was involved in Dawn’s disappearance.


When he saw David, Brian Brossard said, “‘I’m going to ask you this one time. Did you have anything to do with Dawn’s disappearance? He looked at me and said, ‘No.’”


Defense witnesses testified after Walworth County Circuit Judge James L. Carlson refused to dismiss the murder charge against David Brossard, 41, of Burlington.


After the prosecution rested Wednesday morning, defense attorney Charles Blumenfield argued there was not enough evidence to continue the case, despite a legal standard to interpret that evidence in a light most favorable to the state.


“The state must prove that my client caused the death of Dawn Brossard with the intent to kill,” Blumenfield said. In his opinion, those elements had not been proven.


Prosecutor Phillip Koss said he showed David Brossard had a motive to kill his unfaithful wife, that David Brossard expressed intent to kill with a note reading “Till death do us part” left for Dawn with her wedding dress, and that David Brossard had ready access to the items used to hide Dawn Brossard’s body.


“It is circumstantial evidence. There is no direct evidence,” Carlson said.


But, considered in the light most favorable to the state, the judge concluded that jurors could convict David Brossard of murder.


More defense witnesses are expected today.



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