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Richfield man found guilty of killing ex-classmate

  • Associated Press
  • August 19, 2014 - 4:35 PM

WEST BEND, Wis. — A 20-year-old Richfield man was convicted Tuesday in the strangulation death of a former high school classmate.

It took a Washington County jury less than four hours to find Daniel Bartelt guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Jessie Blodgett, 19, of Hartford. He faces a maximum of life in prison when he's sentenced Oct. 14.

Blodgett was an actress, music teacher and college student who had attended a cast party for a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" the night before she was killed last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1tlUhl5 ). Bartelt had been her classmate at Hartford Union High School and had dated Blodgett at one point.

Blodgett's mother found her dead in bed on the afternoon of July 15, 2013, just hours after hearing her return from the cast party about 1 a.m. The teen had ligature marks on her neck and left wrist, and an autopsy determined she had been bound and strangled, according to court documents.

"Nobody won today," her father, Buck Blodgett, said after the jury returned its verdict.

In his closing argument, District Attorney Mark Bensen said the evidence was overwhelming.

"She's screaming at us and telling us through her body and through her DNA what happened to her," Bensen said.

Bartelt's DNA was found under Blodgett's fingernails and in her genital area, Bensen said, consistent with a sexual assault. A roll of tape found under Blodgett's bed had Bartelt's fingerprints all over it, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Gary Schmaus said only the tape linked Bartelt to the crime scene, the newspaper reported. Bartelt had been in Blodgett's bedroom before her death, Schmaus said, referencing witness testimony.

He said he was disappointed with the verdict and that they'll decide whether to appeal after sentencing.

© 2014 Star Tribune