Testimony begins today in the trial of a man charged with killing a woman in La Crosse six-and-a-half months ago.
Prosecutors said 45-year-old Izelia Golatt strangled 35-year-old Kristen Tabbert Rodgers in early March, soon after the two traded dozens of text messages and phone calls in her search for crack cocaine. But the defense claims that Rodgers was choked during rough sex the previous day – and she actually died from cocaine in her system and exposure to 30-degree temperatures. Surveillance video showed Golatt’s van leaving a convenience store around two a-m last March sixth with a person inside matching Rodgers’ description. A short time later, witnesses saw the van with no passenger in it. And five hours later, a scrap collector found Rodgers’ dead body in a dirt lot. Golatt was convicted of second-degree murder in Illinois in 1993, but jurors will not hear that fact in court. The jury will be able to examine D-N-A evidence, even though the defense says it could have matched over 400 other people. The jury was picked late last week. The trial is expected to last for most of this week.