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Fleischauer intentional homicide trial begins

Defense attorney Earl Gray addresses the jury during his opening statements June 3. John R. Russett / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Somer Johnson-Fleischauer testifies Monday June 3 in court while her father Kayle Fleischauer — accused of killing her brother, his son, Chase Fleischauer — looks on. John R. Russett / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Kayle Alan Fleischauer, the New Richmond man accused of killing his 19-year-old son, sat facing forward, an attorney on either side, as his daughter sat down on the witness stand, pulled the microphone in front of her and began to answer questions about the night her brother died.

April 14, 2018, around 4:10 a.m. authorities were called to 1489 142nd St. for a report of a male with a gunshot wound to the head and upon arrival found Chase Alan Fleischauer unresponsive in the kitchen area.

The St. Croix County District Attorney's Office April 17, 2018, subsequently charged Kayle Fleischauer with first-degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon modifier as well as an out-of-state felon in possession of a firearm. A motion to sever the charges was granted Jan. 25.

After a morning of jury selection June 3, in which 46 remaining possible jurors were whittled to 14, Somer Johnson-Fleischauer took the stand following opening statements on the trial's first day.

Johnson-Fleischauer — who spoke through tears during parts of her testimony — told the court she was close with her brother, that he was smart and wonderful.

She said they didn't live with the defendant when they were growing up, that she and her brother weren't close with their father and didn't see him often.

She talked about the evening of Friday April 13, 2018, when they drove from Minneapolis to see their father. She said they drank with their father that night. She was asked to look at photos from the scene. She was under oath when they replayed her call to 911.

Johnson-Fleischauer said she saw no injuries on her brother before she went to bed, but later heard yelling and movement from upstairs and she heard her brother say he would never hit his father.

In his opening statement, Assistant Attorney General Robert Kaiser Jr. detailed numerous injuries listed in the autopsy report and said Chase Fleischauer's skull sustained a fracture prior to the gunshot wound and there were signs of strangulation.

"Two kids came to the defendant's home that night," Kaiser said. "One left."

Defense attorney Earl Gray maintained Kayle Fleischauer and Chase Fleischauer wrestled earlier that night, as they had done many times before, which led to various injuries later observed on Chase Fleischauer.

"Obviously, Kayle won the wrestling match if you can call it that," Gray said during his opening remarks.

Gray also said the skull fracture was a result of the gunshot wound.

Johnson-Fleischauer originally told investigators she was in bed by 10:30 p.m., but it was later determined by her phone activity that she didn't go to bed until around 1:30 a.m.

After waking up and hearing yelling, she said she yelled for her brother to come downstairs and go to bed before she fell back asleep.

The next thing she remembers is waking up to the sound of a chair hitting the floor upstairs, she said, and she went upstairs and found her brother on the floor with a gunshot wound to his head.

"I knew something was wrong because of how loud it was," Johnson-Fleischauer said.

According to Johnson-Fleischauer, her father refused to call 911 and at one point held his phone over his head so she couldn't get it to make the call herself. She went downstairs to her phone and called 911.

Her testimony carried into the second day of the trial.

Sgt. Jacob Sather of the New Richmond police department was the first on-scene the morning Chase Fleischauer was shot and he was called as the state's third witness.

The courtroom saw the recording from Sather's dashcam video, which recorded audio from the scene through a mic worn on his uniform. The recording lasted nearly an hour, which was the entirety of Sather's time at the house.

The recording was chaotic and difficult to understand at times. The jury was afforded a transcript to read through while they listened.

The trial is scheduled through June 12. Check back for more coverage throughout.

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