Testimony continues Wednesday in Door County cold trial
DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) — Testimony continues Wednesday in the trial of a man charged with the 1975 murder of his wife.
Richard Pierce, 86, is on trial in Door County for first-degree murder and exhumation of bodies for the death of Carol Jean Pierce. Carol Jean was never located.
Action 2 News plans to broadcast the trial live on our website and Facebook page. NOTE: We will remove streaming by judge’s order. We will also have to stop streaming during breaks. The hearing is due to start at 8:30 a.m.
The prosecution and defense delivered their opening statements on Tuesday. This was followed by testimony from Carol Jean’s brother, Brian Fillion. Fillion testified for hours about her sister’s communication with her family and her devotion to her husband. He told jurors he hadn’t heard from his sister in 46 years.
- CLICK HERE for full coverage of Tuesday’s testimony.
Near the end of the cross-examination, after hours on the stand, Fillion was asked if he thought he was biased.
“A bias? Yes, my sister has been gone for over 17,000 days. Yes, I have a bias.
A juror was dismissed on Tuesday for medical reasons. From now on, a jury of five women and nine men will hear the case. Two of these jurors are alternates. Jurors will not be sequestered.
Carol Jean Pierce has not been seen since September 1975.
Police say Richard Pierce moved to Cheboygan, Michigan and got a new girlfriend shortly after Carol Jean disappeared. A missing persons report for Carol Jean has not been filed for 82 days.
A criminal complaint states that Richard Pierce had “obtained numerous things on the basis of Carol Jean’s disappearance, including an unencumbered pension by a wife; most of the significant assets of their marriage; land and a house in Michigan; a new girlfriend a few weeks after Carol Jean’s disappearance, as well as the benefit of Carol Jean’s silence.
On September 21, 2018, the Wisconsin Cold Case Review Team reviewed the case and concluded there was enough to show that Richard Pierce was poised to cash in on Carol Jean’s disappearance.
Investigators in Sturgeon Bay and Michigan spent weeks searching Richard Pierce’s property in Michigan, looking for any evidence related to Carol Jean’s disappearance.
“You will hear how when investigators visited the house in 2018, there was a crawl space in the northern part of his house. There was an opening in this crawl space and in 2008 this opening was filled with materials, dirt, rocks and dirt. And you’ll hear that when investigators returned in 2018, a significant amount of this material had been removed. and now there is a hole in the concrete. and you’ll hear at that point that investigators have deployed what’s called an HRD dog, a human remains detector dog, kind of like a drug dog, except that dog is trained to detect one thing and one alone: and that’s the smell of a dead human body,” Door County Assistant District Attorney Nick Grode said.
He continued: “They can detect it even after that body has been removed and a significant amount of time after it has been removed. You will hear that this dog passed through the residence of the accused and that this dog indicated not once, nor twice, nor three times, but six times the smell of a corpse in the house of the accused. »
The defense told the jury they did not believe the prosecution would be able to piece together the puzzle of Carol Jean’s disappearance.
“I believe you are going to need this information. You’re going to need to know if, in fact, Carol Jean is dead,” says attorney Kate Zuidmulder. “I think you’re going to need to know how she died and while we have certain dates the state believes, as they call it, that this murder took place, we have no idea. There is no factual basis for this. There are no witnesses who saw anything. There is nothing to indicate, but more importantly, they will not be able to show you any of this information. They won’t be able to conclusively prove with physical evidence that Carol Jean Pierce is dead. They can’t tell you how it happened. Cause of death, they won’t be able to link a weapon to my client or anyone else. In fact, it could literally be anyone.
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