WORTHINGTON — Court proceedings continued Monday in the trial of Christopher Kruse, including viewing the remainder of the video footage of Kruse's law enforcement interviews following the murder of Janette Pigman-Kruse, as well as the presentation of selections from Kruse's March 2019 grand jury testimony.
The first two recorded interviews with Kruse took place on Aug. 19 and 20, 2015. Those two interviews, explained Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Senior Special Agent Derek Woodford, created some confusion between physical evidence from the crime scene and Kruse's account of what had happened.
The third interview took place around 10 a.m. Aug. 27, 2015, about a week after Pigman-Kruse's death. By this time, Woodford and his partner, Special Agent Dave Schafer, had received some notes from the BCA crime scene team.
Prefacing the video footage, Fifth Judicial Judge Terry Vajgrt explained to the jury that the investigators' questions and statements are not considered evidence — only Kruse's answers were.
The interview video depicts Woodford and Shaffer showing Kruse a series of photos taken of the crime scene, asking him to clarify what he remembers about his wife's murder.
They showed him a photo of two spent shotgun shells, indicating that although he said he only heard one shot and saw one shell on the floor, there were indeed two shots fired. Kruse acknowledged that perhaps the first shot woke him up and the second shot was what he actually heard. He was uncertain exactly what had happened.
The investigators also showed Kruse a picture of the bullet hole through the headboard of the bed, explaining that the first shot went right through the pillows on his side of the bed. They also noted the blood on the bed compared with the lack of blood on his shirt. Although both of these facts suggest that Kruse was not in bed with Pigman-Kruse at the time of the shooting, Kruse maintained that he was.
Woodford and Schafer reviewed an earlier statement by Kruse that, "He stood in my [expletive] doorway and shot my wife." Who is "he," they wondered, and asked how could Kruse have known that the shooter was standing in the doorway if he really hadn't seen anyone in the house, as he'd claimed. Woodford and Schafer also asked how he could have known that his wife was dead already when he was talking to the 911 dispatcher, since he didn't administer first aid or otherwise help his wife. Kruse did not know how to answer these questions.
As the interview progressed, Kruse began to realize that Woodford and Schafer suspected him of murdering Pigman-Kruse. This realization was upsetting to him, so the agents wrapped up the interview.
In the fourth interview, around 1:45 p.m. that same day, the first thing Kruse said was, "I didn't do this, man."
This time around, investigators outright accused Kruse of lying to them about the details of the incident. Under pressure, Kruse then implicated a longtime family friend, citing possible jealousy as a motive.
Woodford and Shaffer again explained that the first shot (which missed) would have hit Kruse if he had truly been in bed with his wife, and that her blood would have been all over his clothes if he were next to her.
"One hundred percent guarantee you I was in that bed," Kruse maintained.
At the end of the interview, the investigators still did not believe him.
The fifth and final recorded interview was not until Feb. 9, 2017. This interview was prompted by Kruse's presentation to investigators of letters he found in the room of his daughter, Bailey. They were from her now-boyfriend, Jeremy Majerus, and indicated that he was willing to fight to be with her. (Majerus had previously asked to date Bailey, but was told no, because he was 18 and she was 14.)
Although the letters are not dated, Kruse wondered if they might imply a possible motive on Majerus's part. The interview is much like the others, with law enforcement trying to nail down a definite timeline and sequence of events.
Woodford told the jury that the letters did elicit further investigation of Majerus, but the state still didn't consider him a suspect. He had a solid alibi supported by testimony from his father.
The special agent also noted that other than Pigman-Kruse's sister Kay, no members of the family followed up with law enforcement for updates on the case. He said usually in these circumstances, family members are anxious for resolution and make regular phone calls to find out the status of the investigation.
Woodford explained that in the Pigman-Kruse case, the BCA did not do gunshot residue testing. That data isn't used much anymore, he said, because the presence of gunshot residue does not necessarily mean the person fired a gun. Anyone in close proximity to a gunshot (such as in the same bedroom) would likely show gunshot residue.
The BCA investigated more than 50 people in this case, Woodford said, but couldn't find anyone except Kruse who had a motive to murder Pigman-Kruse.
The defense argued that although Woodford and Schafer had told Kruse in an interview that his claim someone broke in and used his own gun to murder his wife was "a stretch" and "absurd," Woodford previously worked a 2007 Waseca case in which a family was shot at home with their own gun by a random stranger.
They also addressed implications made by the prosecution — such as the fact that Kruse didn't ask for an ambulance when he called 911, pointing out that Kruse heard the dispatcher ask for one and didn't stop her. They also noted that if Kruse had been underneath bed covers, as he claimed, his clothes might not have absorbed any gunshot residue, so that test actually could have been helpful.
Ending the day's testimony, the state recounted pieces of the testimony Kruse gave at the March 2019 grand jury in which he was indicted. To many of the questions he was asked, he answered with variations of "I don't know" or "I can't be sure." The prosecution also noted it as suspect that in the 3 1/2 years since Pigman-Kruse's death, Kruse still said last year that he hadn't talked to any of his family members about what happened.
Witness testimony will continue Tuesday.