A Rock County judge said Friday she wants to hear from a potential witness who suggests someone other than the accused man stabbed a Janesville woman to death in 2017.
Julian D. Collazo, 22, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Dec. 9, 2017, stabbing death of Christine Scaccia-Lubeck, 43, in her Janesville home.
Jeffrey Jensen, Collazo’s lawyer, seeks to introduce evidence that Nicole R. Kazar, 25, was the person who stabbed Scaccia-Lubeck, based on a conversation Kazar had with another inmate at the Rock County Jail.
During a motion hearing Friday, Judge Barbara McCrory said she wants to hold an evidentiary hearing to tease out what the inmate can and cannot legally say because, as Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks pointed out, the inmate has made different statements about what happened.
If the inmate describes what she claims Kazar told her, then that evidence would be allowed, McCrory said. But it would be considered hearsay if the inmate based the information on what someone else told her.
The judge’s hope is to hammer such details out and avoid having debates during Collazo’s trial, which is scheduled for October.
Jensen’s motion asks McCrory to allow the evidence the defense is collecting from the inmate.
“If there is evidence that a third party had motive and opportunity to commit the crime with which the defendant is charged, the court should allow evidence if it is relevant and there is proof directly connecting the third party to the offense charged,” Jensen’s motion states.
There is then a three-pronged test to see if the evidence is admissible:
- Did the third party have a motive?
- Did the person have opportunity?
- Is there evidence connecting the third person with the offense charged?
McCrory ruled in favor of the motion, thereby saying the defense can present this evidence, but questions remain about how the evidence will be presented.
Kazar is accused of telling the other inmate that she was “getting away with murder,” according to the motion.
The inmate claims Kazar said she saw Collazo hugging and kissing Scaccia-Lubeck, and Kazar “snapped and picked up a knife and ran after the woman and started to stab her,” the motion states.
Nicole Kazar, who fled Janesville with murder suspect Julian Collazo in December 2017, was sentenced Tuesday in Rock County Court.
Kazar has been convicted of helping Collazo steal Scaccia-Lubeck’s car after the stabbing. But prosecutors said in the criminal complaint that she didn’t know about the stabbing until later.
Dirks said Friday that in all of the inmate’s versions of events, Collazo is still at the house the night of the stabbing. If prosecutors must change their homicide charge against Collazo to party to the crime, they have that option, he said.
Collazo admitted to a fellow inmate that he stabbed Scaccia-Lubeck, according to a Janesville detective’s testimony at a preliminary hearing last year.
Jensen said there’s no requirement in the motion that this evidence represent a “complete” or “particularly strong” defense. What the inmate has to say would help “lay the foundation” for Kazar’s admission, he said.
The hearing to present the evidence in question is set for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
Collazo’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 21.