WAUSAU - One week into what could be a three-week trial, a jury finally heard from witnesses who may have played big roles in helping investigators move the case against Kristopher Torgerson forward.
Story By Stephanie Haines
Torgerson is accused of killing Stephanie Low in 2010 and burying her body.
Monday, his then-girlfriend, Andrea Wadinski, took the stand.
She testified that she led Torgerson to her mother's cabin in Forest County on the day investigators believe Low disappeared. The cabin is near where Low's body was eventually found.
But Wadinski didn't admit that to police until three years later. She testified on Monday that she lied to police multiple times in the first couple years of the investigation.
Wadinski said she lied mainly because she said she was afraid of Torgerson.
It wasn't until February 2013 that Wadinski admitted to police what they think is the truth--that Wadinski led
Torgerson, who police believe had Low's body, to Low's burial place in Forest County.
On the night of Oct. 9, 2010, Wadinski testified, she was watching Torgerson's kids while he went out. Wadinski testified that Torgerson came home in the early-morning hours of Oct. 10.
"He said he did something to E's girl and then he made a motion," Wadinski said. "He made a motion across his neck."
Then, she testified Torgerson asked her for directions to her mother's cabin near Wabeno later that same day.
"I was too upset to give him directions, and I had said that I would just have to take him up there," Wadinski said.
She testified that she then met up with Torgerson and his friend, Richard Hawkins, at a gas station. She said she then led them to the Wabeno area, with her baby and Torgerson's children in the car. She said she left shortly after they all arrived at the cabin.
The jury later learned that story is not the one Wadinski told police for more than two years. Torgerson's defense attorney, Thomas Wilmouth, questioned Wadinski about her police interviews from 2010 to 2012. At Monday's trial, she testified that she lied in those interviews.
"Through the course of these six interviews, you never told police about what you did, right?" Wilmouth asked.
"That's correct," Wadinski responded.
It wasn't until February 2013 that Wadinski finally told police a different story, the one they believe to be the truth. Investigators then presented her with her cellphone records that showed she was at least in the Antigo area, which is on the way to the cabin, on Oct. 10, 2010. Wadinski testified that she wasn't honest with police because she was afraid of Torgerson.
"I've always had an intention to tell the truth; I am just too afraid of the defendant," Wadinski said.
Wadinski has not been charged in this case. She did testify that she considers her involvement a serious crime, and she did testify that she was sorry for not being honest with police.
"As you're going through these six interviews, you realized you helped hide the corpse, right?" Wilmouth asked.
After a long pause, Wadinski replied, "Yes."
Wadinski testified on the witness stand for more than six hours on Monday. When both the state and the defense had finished questioning her, another witness took the stand.
Richard Hawkins testified that he met Torgerson when they lived in Alabama years ago. Hawkins said he moved to Wisconsin to live with Torgerson and find work.
Just after midnight on Oct. 10, 2010, Hawkins testified, Torgerson woke him up and drove him to Low's apartment. He said Torgerson had a key to get in. He said that after they entered, he saw Low's body on the bed, wrapped in bed sheets. He said he could see blood coming from her neck.
"I said, 'What did you do?' He didn't answer me the first time. I said again, 'What did you do to her?' He replied, 'She didn't give me what I wanted,'" Hawkins testified.
Hawkins testified that he helped Torgerson carry the body to his car. Later that morning, Hawkins said he and Torgerson met Wadinski at a gas station. He said they followed Wadinski to the cabin near Wabeno.
Hawkins said he and Torgerson went to go buy a shovel and later drove through the woods.
"And when he started digging, he mentioned to me that I need to help him move a rock out of the way," Hawkins said.
Eventually the two rolled the rock over the spot where the body was buried, Hawkins said. The witness added that a car drove past them while they were digging, and he said Torgerson told him to hide behind the car.
When they were done and driving back, Hawkins said Torgerson broke and scattered parts of Low's phone out of the window. He said they put the sheets in a dumpster and threw the shovel in a pond near Wadinski's home.
The next day, Hawkins testified, Torgerson told him about the safe full of drugs in Low's apartment. Hawkins said Torgerson told him he wanted to go back to the apartment and get the safe.
A few weeks later, Hawkins said he moved to California.
On Tuesday, Wilmouth will cross examine Hawkins. The prosecution is still presenting its case.