JUNEAU – A 50-year-old Watertown man was found guilty Thursday of causing the death of Holly Nehls by delivering her a fatal dose of heroin in May 2016.
A Dodge County jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Terrence Jannke guilty of first-degree reckless homicide, maintaining a drug trafficking place as a party to a crime, and possession with intent to deliver heroin as a second and subsequent offense. He faces up to 56 years in prison and up to $135,000 in fines.
Under Wisconsin law, if a person delivers controlled substances and then a person dies as a result of drug use, the supplier can be convicted of homicide. Anyone in the chain of delivery may be held responsible for the death.
Jannke did not testify during the four-day trial. Dodge County Circuit Judge Joseph Sciascia approved the verdict.
The eight men and four women on the jury requested all of the paper documents presented during the trial while deliberating.
Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg went through the series of witnesses who testified over the trial during his closing argument, including Gabriel Brandl, who administered the drug to Nehls and has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in her death.
Brandl testified that Jannke met him and Nehls at Clyman Park on May 30, 2016, for a cook-out and to purchase heroin from Jannke.
“The obvious purpose of the meeting was to buy heroin from the defendant,” Klomberg said.
Nehls overdosed from the heroin administered by Brandl, and Brandl and Jannke drove with her in the car for hours around the Watertown area before returning to Jannke’s house.
“What did they do but go inside to do a lot of heroin?” Klomberg said. “They did not discuss payment. It was effectively the equivalent of hush money. There might have been a more sinister motive to provide enough heroin for Brandl to die as well.”
Over and over the witnesses spoke about purchasing heroin from Jannke in his room and going to Rockford, Illinois, to get heroin.
“He provided heroin to all these people,” Klomberg said during his closing argument. “Holly died from this heroin. And what did Jannke do? He bragged that his heroin was ‘so good it killed someone,’ as if this was some kind of macabre marketing tool.”
Defense attorney Bill Mayer said there were two other prescription medications in Nehls’ system at the time of her death along with the heroin.
“All of these caused her death,” Mayer said.
Jannke is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 8.