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Sackett Trial: Pathologist: Cause of death ‘homicidal violence’

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The pathologist who did the autopsy on Erin Somvilai told jurors that based on his examination, the ropes and chains tied to her were done after she was dead.

Dr. Ross Reichard, a pathology consultant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, testified Wednesday afternoon about his conclusions he presented in his autopsy report.

He said Somvilai was found with ropes and chains around her. Those ropes and chains were also tied to concrete blocks.

He said that he saw no 'vital reaction' to those ropes and chains tied to Somvilai. He testified that if she were alive at the time, there'd be indications of some type of injuries around those areas. He said he saw no evidence of any injuries or wounds on Somvilai's body.

"In my opinion, the cause of death was homicidal violence and the manner of death was homicide," Dr. Reichard said in response to a question from the prosecution. He based his finding, he said, on the totality of the autopsy, toxicology, and investigation of the case.

He also testified that he found no illegal drugs in Somvilai.


LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A La Crosse Police investigator continued his testimony Wednesday morning in the homicide trial of Erik Sackett.

He's on trial for 1st-Degree Intentional Homicide in the death of Erin Somvilai in June 2018.

Investigator Andrew Rosenow was cross-examined by Sackett's attorney Christopher Zachar.

Rosenow interviewed Sackett on June 8, 2018, regarding the disappearance of Somvilai. Her body wasn't found until June 17 in Runge Hollow Lake in Vernon County.

The prosecution contends that Sackett withheld information on when he spent time with Somvilai.

The defense counters that someone else either killed Somvilai or she committed suicide. Zachar questioned whether Somvilai may have been alive later than what police believe. He questioned Rosenow about possible sightings of Somvilai on June 4. Police believe she was killed on June 3.

Zachar also spent time questioning Rosenow about the police investigation into another person involved in the case-Dr. David Onsrud. Rosenow said at one point that the doctor wasn't completely truthful regarding his relationship, both professional and personal, with Somvilai.


Later Wednesday morning, Molly Peacock, Erin's step-sister, testified. She said that the last time she saw Erin was June 1. It was after Erin was released from jail after her arrest for an incident involving a neighbor.

Peacock said she'd gotten text messages that weekend from Erin.

She found out later the following week that Erin was missing. She said she helped post flyers and drove around looking for Erin.

She also spoke to Erik Sackett during that time.  When asked about Erin's disappearance, she said Erik told her that he thought Erin was with Molly.

Erik was also told her about the sexual relationship with Dr. Onsrud.

Sackett's attorney Christopher Zachar also got Molly to testify that Erin had considered suicide, again going back to the defense's contention that someone else killed Somvilai or she took her own life.


Kevin Millard

Kevin Millard-Social Media Digital Content Manager for WXOW.

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