A Wausau man is now charged as the only killer in a cold case murder. Prosecutors allege that James Emerson acted alone in the December 1999 beating and strangulation death of Rhonda Mertes. Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad alleges Emerson killed Mertes because she refused to have sex with him, and that more more than 60 DNA tests all point to the same thing: that Emerson was the lone perpetrator.
Emerson's defense had sought to put an attorney claiming to know the killer's true identity on the stand at trial. But a judge denied that Wednesday – a decision Falstad is OK with. "It struck us that it really may have been 'hallway talk' that occurs in the courthouse, where people debate ethical issues, or throw out hypotheticals," said Falstad.
The judge will rule on a change of venue motion later this month. A four-week jury trial will start January 26th.