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Waterloo man rejected as juror before making deposit to trial witness

JEFFERSON (WKOW) — A Waterloo man was rejected as a potential juror before being accused of tainting a jury decision with a deposit into the account of a witness in the murder trial of Daniel Lieske of Marshall.

Lieske’s attorney, Dennis Burke, says Kevin Lahti’s deposit into the Dane County Jail account of prosecution witness Emmanuel Harris amounted to payment-for-perjury.  Burke says Harris lied on the witness stand as he testified on Lieske’s potential motive for killing 21-year-old Jesse Faber of Sun Prairie in January 2018.

Lahti is a Faber family member, and his deposit was made within an hour of a jury finding Lieske guilty of first degree intentional homicide.  Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne says there was no payment-for-perjury.  Lieske filed legal notice he intends to challenge his conviction.

Jefferson County court officials say Lahti was being considered as a potential juror in 2018 for trials in that jurisdiction, and was sent a juror qualification questionnaire.  The questionnaire is a check-the-box form of eight yes-or-no questions, with narrative answers only if you have served on a jury previously, or need accommodations for a disability.  A court official say one of Lahti’s responses to the questionnaire was so “…outside the norm,” a judge was consulted.  Judge Robert Dehring convened a May 2018 hearing to evaluate Lahti’s fitness to serve on a jury.

Online state court records say Lahti told the court he “…has lost faith in the Wisconsin court system,” although the hearing summary does not include Lahti’s questionnaire response that prompted the rare hearing.  The hearing summary states Dehring excused Lahti as a potential juror for any upcoming trial because Lahti would not be able to be fair and impartial.

27 News was unable to reach Lahti Monday for his comment on his scuttled jury service in Jefferson County, or his deposit into trial witness Harris’ account.  Lahti previously left a message for a 27 News reporter, maintaining he “…would like to clear things up as long as you’re going to print the truth.”

A Lieske trial juror told 27 News Harris’ controversial testimony was not crucial to the jury finding Lieske guilty.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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