Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Objection raised to Wangler trial witness
By Margie Wuebker
Dr. Mark Wangler looks toward TV cameras while waiting for his aggravated murder. . .
LIMA - Jurors in the aggravated murder case of Dr. Mark Wangler will hear a retired orthopedic surgeon testify regarding a conversation he had with the anesthesiologist in the weeks prior to Kathy Wangler's September 2006 death due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Day number four of the Allen County Common Pleas Court trial began Tuesday with Wangler's defense team objecting to Dr. David Davis being added to the state's witness list.
Davis reportedly contacted the prosecution in late February prior to the start of jury selection. He claims Wangler spoke to him about suspicions and problems involving his 48-year-old wife, a native of Celina, and dismissed the suggestion of getting a divorce, saying he didn't believe in it.
Lead defense counsel Christopher McDowell objected to the addition of Davis to the witness list, pointing out the man apparently did not remember the conversation of more than four years ago until he read a recent newspaper article.
Judge Richard K. Warren ruled in the state's favor.
"If we lived in a perfect world, we would be provided a list of witnesses and that would be the end," he said. "The state didn't know another witness existed until the weekend leading up to Feb. 28."
Davis is expected to testify later this week. Both doctors at one time worked at the Orthopedic Institute of Ohio in Lima.
Wangler, who grew up in Fort Recovery, is being tried for aggravated murder of his wife. He claims her death by carbon monoxide poisoning was caused by a water heater malfunctioning.
The prosecution on Tuesday called to the stand scientists who analyzed ductwork which was taken from the Wangler home more than 14 months after Kathy Wangler's death. Tests were conducted at the University of Wisconsin Hygiene Lab, a facility specializing in identifying chemical compounds associated with soot and exhaust.
Scientists Steve Geis and Brandon Shelton detailed the testing procedures at length - highly technical processes aimed at detecting traces of compounds linked to exhaust from a gasoline-powered engine.
Detective Sgt. Fred DePalma from the Allen County Sheriff's Office took the stand and showed a video recording he made at the Wangler home the day after Kathy Wangler's death. The recording, which DePalma admitted was of poor quality, showed the house and the natural gas water heater.
DePalma's camera focused on a motor home parked on the driveway and two motor vehicles parked inside the attached garage. In addition to spotlighting their exhaust pipes, the detective focused on a portable generator, a snowblower and a lawnmower also located in the garage.
He also brought into court floor registers, various pieces of ductwork, carpet fibers, a garden hose and a collapsible hose from the motor home. DePalma explained other packages brought into court contained new items purchased for comparison purposes and ductwork taken from the former home of Bath Fire Chief Joe Kitchen, who lived in the same neighborhood as the Wanglers.
The detective explained how he pumped exhaust from the motor home and its generator through the hoses during a two-hour process before sending them to the lab for analysis. While picking up a long piece of ductwork, he accidentally knocked over a water pitcher on the defense table. The judge quickly called a brief recess so Wangler and his attorneys could mop up the mess.
During cross examination, McDowell reminded jurors the ductwork had been cleaned and sanitized in the weeks following Kathy Wangler's death. He questioned DePalma at length whether the items he collected had been exposed to automobile emissions during transport to the sheriff's office evidence room and to the Wisconsin laboratory.
He also questioned Shelton at length about apparent mistakes the chemist crossed out in a laboratory notebook, asking specifically whether an undiscovered error could affect test results. Shelton responded affirmatively.
The trial was to resume this morning with more testimony involving testing of the ductwork, with another University of Wisconsin expert expected to confirm the presence of trace compounds related to engine exhaust.