By Shereen Siewert

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking judges to reject an appeal by a Lincoln County man convicted in April 2014 of strangling and stabbing his wife to death before dumping her body in a swamp

Mark Bucki, now 54, 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, is arguing that his client’s trial 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. Rebholz argues that the court should have allowed evidence that showed that the shoes used by the bloodhound’s handler to track the scent could also have been worn by the victim herself.

The lack of corroboration for the cadaver dogs, Rebholz argues, led the jury to improperly speculate that what could have been entirely innocent scents were evidence of Mark Bucki’s guilt.

But Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, in a brief filed March 20, argues that Circuit Judge Jay Tlusty acted properly and that Mark Bucki’s trial attorneys addressed the issue on cross-examination. Further, Kaul argues, the jury would have convicted Mark Bucki even if they had dismissed the dog evidence entirely.

During his trial, Bucki was represented by attorneys James Lex and Jessica Schuster.

Prosecutors during the trial relied heavily 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.

“(Mark Bucki) believes he was unfairly convicted, and the reasons for that are complicated,” Rebholz said, in a July 2017 phone interview with Wausau Pilot and Review.

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.

Bucki is currently serving his sentence at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, originally the Supermax Correctional Institution, in Boscobel.

A decision is expected to be released by April 4.