- Jurors will now decide whether a Lincoln County man killed his wife and hid her body.
Mark Bucki, 50, faces three charges in connection to the dissaperance and murder of his late wife, 48-year-old Anita Bucki. Those charges include first-degree homicide, hiding a body and strangling a person.
A 12 person jury started their deliberations Tuesday afternoon. He could walk free with a not guilty verdict, or get substantial time in prison for a guilty verdict.
Bucki still shows emotion when talking about his murdered wife Anita. He cried multiple times while testifying in court Tuesday. Bucki talked about emotional moments he had hours before Anita disappeared.
“I hugged her like two or three times that night when she was crying,” Bucki said.
Bucki says that happened just hours before his wife Anita disappeared. He had asked Anita to come over on April 26, 2013 to discuss their marriage. Mark was seeing another woman and wanted to move on.
“I’m not sure what to tell you, I know my mind would be stuck in not so good a state of mind, one hell of a road block in there, I really believe we don’t have a chance anymore,” Bucki said in an April 2013 email to Anita.
Bucki says she was at peace when he went to bed around midnight. He says he woke up at 4:50 a.m. the next morning and couldn't find Anita. She was found dead in May 2013 in a Taylor County swamp near County Highway C.
Prosecutors argued one reason Bucki killed Anita was to cash in on her life insurance. He told investigators when she disappeared, that he didn’t know much about it.
“We we’re dropping bills to keep our bills paid,” Bucki said.
“Because of the financial problems you had?” Defense Attorney Jessica Schuster asked.
“Right,” Bucki said.
Bucki says he found out about the policy after Anita’s disappearance. It would pay Bucki $82,000 for her death.
According to court documents and testimony Tuesday, Bucki sent a letter to his girlfriend later saying they could live off of the insurance money and money he was expecting from a workers compensation settlement.
“I guess that would just be reality I guess, it’s not planned,” Bucki said.
“Do you understand how that might sound callous?” Schuster said.
“I’ve been that way all my life, yeah, I aint good with words,” Bucki said.
Prosecutors might agree. They read a separate letter he sent while he was in jail to the woman he was seeing. In it, Bucki said his feelings for Anita were gone.
“My happiest summer sure turned to my worst because of Anita,” Bucki wrote in the letter, “The feelings I have left for her (Anita) sure are gone since I’ve been stuck in here.”
-- Closing Arguments—
Attorneys didn’t waste time finishing their side of the case during closing arguments. Prosecutors argued Bucki lied to and even stalled police throughout their search for his wife Anita. They also accused Bucki of changing his story.
Defense attorneys argued Bucki was the only suspect all along.
Prosecutors admitted they didn’t have enough direct evidence, like DNA, linking Mark to the murder, but they believe the amount of circumstantial evidence is enough to convict Bucki.
Prosecuting Attorney Richard DuFour attorney said a non-guilty vote would mean the jury believed Anita left the home after midnight, without her belongings, then was strangled and stabbed by a stranger, without trying to fight back.
“If you don’t believe that’s what happened, the defendant has to be the one who killed her, it’s as simple as that,” DuFour said.
Defense Attorney James Lex argued Bucki was the only suspect from day one of the disappearance. They believe the evidence is not enough to convict Bucki.
Meanwhile, the police, prosecution and a number of other agencies couldn’t find direct evidence linking Bucki to Anita’s murder.
“And with all of those resources, we have come up with nothing forensically implicating Mark Bucki with the death of his wife,” Lex said.
The jury will need to believe Mark Bucki killed Anita beyond reasonable doubt to convict him of charges. They will also need to vote unanimously for a guilty vote.
-- Jury Issue?—
The judge and attorneys in Lincoln County court had to deal with a juror issue about two hours after the group started deliberating.
A juror had approached one of the court bailiff’s during a smoke break saying “I can’t deal with these people, they all have closed minds.”
The juror had to put that in writing first, so the judge and attorneys could evaluate how to handle the situation.
The attorneys and judge debated whether they should replace the juror. In the end, they decided to keep the person on the jury.
The judge did let the entire jury know they needed to get along while deliberating.
If they don't reach a decision Tuesday, they'll be back in court to continue deliberation Wednesday morning.