Kruse trial: deliberation continues today
WORTHINGTON – The jury resumes deliberation today in the Christopher Kruse trial in Nobles County District Court.
Kruse is on trial for first-degree murder in the 2015 death of his wife, Janette Pigman-Kruse, who died of a gunshot wound at her home in Brewster. Chris Kruse called 911 shortly after 2:30 a.m. August 19, 2015, stating someone had come into their home and shot his wife while they were both in bed sleeping.
The jury was handed the case for deliberation on Wednesday afternoon, and stopped the process at about 5 p.m. to head home. They can continue deliberation for as long as needed, provided they are still making progress.
During closing arguments Wednesday, state prosecutors claimed Kruse stood in the doorway of their bedroom and shot at his wife with a .12 gauge Remington Express while she lay sleeping. They said noise from the first shot, which missed her and went through pillows, the headboard and the wall, woke her from her sleep, causing her to sit up. The state medical examiner said evidence shows Jan was sitting up in bed with her hand out defensively when a second shot was fired, deflecting off her hand before hitting her shoulder.
The state’s premise is that Chris murdered Jan in an attempt to gain her life insurance and retirement funds, which would enable him to buy a resort. The plan to kill her went awry, the state said, when the first shot missed. Without the evidence of two shot shells on the floor in the doorway of their room, the story would have been plausible, according to the closing argument.
The defense states the timeline of events make the state’s case impossible. A 911 call came in from Chris, and within several minutes, their teenage daughter Bailey in a downstairs basement texted her mother, then her father, checking in with them. The defense didn’t mention that none of the texts were answered, but said law enforcement showing up a short time later would not have given Chris time to stash the gun at his shop, several blocks away.
The defense offered to the jury an alternative perpetrator. Chris’ legal team states a boyfriend of Bailey’s, upset that her parents did not allow them to date because of a difference in age, came into the home and fired the gun. Jeremy Majerus originally told law enforcement he didn’t leave his home that night, an alibi corroborated by his father, but later admitted he got a text from Bailey and drove to Brewster, leaving when he saw law enforcement at the home. He also testified that Bailey had told him her parents were fighting like never before and that divorce had been mentioned.
There are inconsistencies in what Chris and his daughter Bailey told law enforcement during interviews directly after the shooting occurred. Majerus admitted later that he lied to law enforcement. And while the state BCA lab says the shotgun found at the shop is a match to the shot shells found at the scene, the expert hired by the defense said he found the results inconclusive.
The defense stated there is a lack of motive for Chris to have shot Jan, as they were a happy couple hoping to embark on a new venture in their lives with the possible purchase of the Spider Lake Resort. The prosecution said the actions of Kruse during interviews and later show consciousness of guilt.
Myriad items of evidence, documents and hours of video, along with the testimony of 40 witnesses will go into the jury’s deliberation. If convicted of first-degree murder, Chris Kruse will be sentenced to a lifetime in prison.