A jury has convicted a Wausau man in a nine-year-old cold case murder. The Iowa County jury found James Emerson guilty of beating and stabbing Rhonda Mertes to death in December 1999. Marathon County district attorney Jill Falstad was surprised deliberations only took 90 minutes but said it's the outcome she hoped for.
Falstad said DNA evidence, and Emerson's confession to fellow jail inmates, linked him to the murder. Mertes' sister Renee Eggebrecht said the verdict will help bring some closure for the family. "We've waited a very long time for it," she said, adding that
the family tracked the case from day one, including every court appearance Emerson made, for one reason – Rhonda. "We are much better off today than we were yesterday."
Defense attorney Peter Thompson plans an appeal. Emerson faces a mandatory life prison term when he's sentenced later this spring. Falstad said police never gave up in their search for Rhonda Mertes' killer – even if it took nine years to get there.