Man accused of murder plans on taking stand in trial; Jury hears testimony on DNA samplesSubmitted: 04/14/2014
Story By Adam Fox

MERRILL - A Merrill-man accused of killing his wife and hiding her body will take the stand in Lincoln County court, according to defense attorneys Monday.

Mark Bucki, 50 , faces three charges in connection to the 2013 murder of his wife Anita. He faces a charge of first-degree homicide, a charge of hiding a body and a charge of strangling a person. Attorneys plan on making their closing arguments Tuesday. The jury will begin deliberating afterwards.

Defense attorneys for Bucki tried to dismiss the case Monday morning.They argued there wasn't enough forensic evidence to move forward, but the judge ruled there was enough evidence for the case to go to a jury decision.

--DNA and Samples--

DNA and blood samples could make the difference for the jury in the case. A number of specialists and DNA analysts testified in court Monday. Specialists said the evidence couldn't genetically show if Bucki did or didn't murder his wife.

Investigators took more than 30 samples from the Bucki property west of Merrill in April 2013. That included samples from an ATV, a pickup truck, an ATV trailer and a pair of boots. Prosecutors believe Bucki used the vehicles to move his wife after she was murdered.

Bart Nagle is a DNA analyst. He testified in court Monday that he thinks he found blood on the ATV, but he couldn't add much more information or context.
"You can't tell us if that was from a human or an animal?" Bucki's Defense Attorney James Lex asked.

"I cannot, and I cannot even really tell you if it is blood or not," Nagle said. "There are things that will also give a positive test in that presumptive test."

Presumptive tests try to prove a specific body tissue or fluid is on the sample being tested. Nagle said he found some traces of DNA on samples, but there wasn't a large enough sample to do more advanced, accurate testing.

"Some were trace, some amount of DNA, and some were zero," Nagle said.

"But some of that had trace amounts of DNA?" Assistant State Attorney General Richard Dufour asked.

"Yes that is correct," Nagle said.

"Just not enough for you to test them?" Dufour asked.

"Right, that is correct," Nagle said.

Investigators found the samples using luminol, a chemical spray that glows when it reacts to iron found in blood. Luminol is only a presumptive test and should be used in conjunction with a second field presumptive test and followed by laboratory analysis if sufficient amounts of staining are detected, according to a Lightning Powder Company publication.

Witnesses say none of the samples came back as Anita Bucki's blood.
Nagle said the evidence couldn't show if Bucki did or didn't kill his wife.

--Possible Impact from Cleaners on Samples--

Prosecutors believe Mark Bucki used bleach and other cleaners to tidy up his truck and home after allegedly killing his wife Anita. DNA analysts said Monday the chemicals would clean up blood, and they would also make it more challenging to accurately label samples when testing.

Investigators testifying last week said they smelled a strong orange cleaner in the Bucki's garage the day Anita disappeared. They also found cleaner in a room with torn up carpet. Nagle said the cleaner would make it more difficult to find a DNA match to possible blood samples.

"I'm not 100 percent sure how bleach would affect the presumptive test," Nagle said "I do know it would destroy the DNA."

Prosecutors say the cleaner at the Bucki home was CaviCide, which you can use it to disinfect surfaces. Anna Schmitz, Wisconsin State Crime Lab, testified they use the same cleaner to sterilize surfaces in their labs.

"Would that include blood samples that you are maintaining? " Dufour asked.

"Yes," Schmitz said.

"Does it do a good job?" Dufour asked.

"I believe so," Schmitz said.

Defense attorneys reminded the jury the cleaner was for surfaces and not carpets. It was found next to a large section of open floor where carpet had been torn up. According to testimony and evidence presented in the case, the section was torn up and burned the same day Anita Bucki disappeared.

She was found dead near Highway C in a swampy area in Taylor County in May 2013. Mark Bucki was arrested in connection to the disappearance and murder on May 13, 2013.

Day seven of the trial will begin Tuesday morning at 8:15 a.m. on the second floor of the Lincoln County courthouse in Merrill. The jury could decide a verdict as early as Tuesday evening.

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