By Shereen Siewert
MERRILL — A Lincoln County man convicted in April 2014 of strangling and stabbing his wife to death before dumping her body in a swamp is appealing his conviction and life sentence.
An evidentiary hearing is set for Aug. 24 in Lincoln County Circuit Court, where Mark Bucki is expected to take the stand. Bucki, now 53, was convicted by a jury following an 8-day trial on charges of first-degree intentional homicide, concealing a corpse and strangulation/suffocation in connection with the April 2013 death of 48-year-old Anita Bucki.
The two had been married for more than 26 years but were estranged at the time of Anita Bucki’s death, according to court testimony.
James Rebholz, a defense attorney from Wauwatosa who is defending Mark Bucki, told Wausau Pilot and Review that the hearing is not about guilt or innocence, but whether his client received a fair trial.
At issue, Rebholz said, is whether Mark Bucki’s attorneys erred in several ways. Rebholz said evidence that bloodhounds found Mark Bucki’s scent in the ditch next to the spot where Anita Bucki’s body was found, 18 miles from the couple’s home, is particularly problematic.
Prosecutors during the trial relied solely on circumstantial evidence including emails and text messages that documented the couple’s marital struggles and Mark Bucki’s desire to start a new life with a girlfriend. Prosecutors also presented evidence that bloodhounds found Mark Bucki’s scent in the ditch next to the spot where Anita Bucki’s body was found, 18 miles from the couple’s home.
“(Mark Bucki) believes he was unfairly convicted, and the reasons for that are complicated,” Rebholz said.
During his trial, Bucki was represented by attorneys James Lex and Jessica Schuster.
Bucki is serving a mandatory life sentence and won’t be eligible for extended release for 35 years, when he is in his mid-80s.
At trial, special prosecutor Richard Dufour told jurors Bucki killed his wife over an intense desire to end the marriage. Anita Bucki moved out of the couple’s home in early April 2013, but witnesses told jurors she wanted to reconcile with her husband. Anita Bucki left the home of her friend, Julie Zietlow, on April 25 to meet with her husband. Zietlow told jurors she never saw her friend alive again.
Anita Bucki remained a missing person until May 10, 2013, when her body was discovered in a swamp nearly 50 feet from the road in a remote area of Taylor County. Autopsy results showed she had been strangled and was stabbed seven times in the chest before she died.
The murder weapon was never found.
At his sentencing hearing, Bucki maintained his innocence.
“I did and still do love Anita,” Bucki told the judge.
Bucki is currently serving his sentence at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, originally the Supermax Correctional Institution, in Boscobel.