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Update: Prosecutor, defense attorney spar in Torgerson trial

in Sirens/Wisconsin news

March 14, 2017; 4:51 p.m.

Testimony will resume tomorrow in the first-degree intentional homicide trial of Kristopher Torgerson, who is accused of killing 22-year-old Stephanie Low and burying her body in Forest County.

Among the witnesses testifying on Tuesday: Elyssa Clendenning, who described herself as Low’s best friend. Clendenning told the jury she knew Low and Low’s boyfriend were dealing drugs from their Thomas Street apartment at the time of Low’s disappearance and said she was worried for her friend’s safety.

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Defense attorney Thomas Wilmouth reviews evidence photos during the murder trial of his client, Kristopher Torgerson. Photo credit: Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

During his opening statement, Thomas Wilmouth, Torgerson’s defense attorney, described Low as a young women caught in a dangerous web of drug trafficking whose death was a tragic case. Wilmouth acknowledged Torgerson was involved in burying Low’s body, but said there is no physical evidence tying Torgerson to the actual murder.

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Kristopher Togerson watches and listens to testimony on March 14, 2017 during his murder trial. Photo credit: Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

A jury of nine men and three women, including three alternates, will continue to hear witness testimony for the prosecution on Wednesday. Low was reported missing Oct. 10, 2010; Torgerson led investigators to her remains nearly four years later.

The jury will be sequestered for the remainder of the trial.

March 14, 2017; 8:30 a.m.

More than six years after the disappearance of a 22-year-old Wausau woman, the trial is underway for her accused killer.

An Eau Claire jury, chosen Monday in Eau Claire, will decide the fate of 37-year-old Kristopher Torgerson, who in September 2014 led investigators to the body of Stephanie Low. Though he led police to her body, Torgerson has never admitted to police he killed Low, who was reported missing in October 2010.

Through years of investigation, police pieced together the puzzle they believe tells the tale of what happened the night Low disappeared.

According to court records:

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A photo of Stephanie Low, who was reported missing in October 2010. Photo credit: Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

On the morning of October 10, 2010,  Torgerson told his then-girlfriend that he had done something bad to Low, she said, and he gestured as if slashing of a knife across his throat. He told the girlfriend that he wanted to take Low’s body to a Wabeno-area cabin owned by the girlfriend’s mother, records said.

Early that morning, police say Torgerson enlisted the help of a friend to go with him to Low’s West Thomas Street apartment, where he saw what appeared to be a dead person wrapped in blankets on a bed. The two moved the body from her second-floor apartment before meeting up with Torgerson’s then-girlfriend at Weston gas station.
The group drove to a local hardware store where they bought a shovel and drove to the cabin. When they arrived, it appeared as though someone was inside the cabin, according to Torgerson’s friend’s statement. The trio kept driving until they reached a clearing in he forest, where Torgerson dug a grave, buried Low and rolled a large rock atop her grave.

Low was considered a missing person for nearly four years, holding regular searches and fundraisers to hep find her. Three years after she was reported missing, police announced they believed she had been murdered.Then in September 2010, Torgerson, who was named a person of interest early in the investigation, told police he could lead them to the body, and on Sept. 22, 2010, Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel called a press conference to announce Low’s body had been found beneath about 1 1/2 feet of soil in the woods near Highway 32 in the Wabeno area.

With her body was a broken knife and a key to a safe police found earlier in Low’s apartment.A forensic dentist identified Low’s body, and the autopsy confirmed the cause of death was homicide.

Torgerson faces charges of first degree intentional homicide, armed robbery and hiding a corpse. If convicted of killing Low, Torgerson faces life in prison. A special prosecutor, Richard Dufour, was appointed to try the case, and the trial is expected to stretch through next week.

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