A judge will allow one-time statements about medical diagnoses of two alleged suicide attempts in an ongoing homicide case, but said he will bar further discussion in court on those incidents.
Patrick A. Kraemer, 50, is accused of killing his former girlfriend Traci Rataczak in 2013. Authorities found her dead by hanging in the basement of the home shared by the defendant and the victim at the time.
During a court hearing Wednesday, Judge W. Andrew Voigt said two alleged incidents in 2002 and 2008 were “a side issue” and that he does not want to see the trial “devolve into” using the victim’s medical history as an escape from due process.
Kraemer’s attorney on March 16, 2018, filed a motion requesting the judge review Rataczak’s medical records and an alleged “history of suicide attempts,” particularly involving two incidents in 2002 and 2008, and determine whether they could be used as evidence.
Voigt said during Wednesday’s hearing that he does not find the first alleged attempt admissible and will allow both the defense and the state to make an opening or closing statement about the medical records and facts of those two incidents. Voigt said he will not accept debate on whether the incidents were indeed suicide attempts.
In the motion, the defense said Kraemer had called police Oct. 2, 2008, after Rataczak contacted him to express thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Authorities reported finding Rataczak on the kitchen floor of their home with a blood-to-alcohol ratio of 0.271 — more than three times the legal intoxication level in Wisconsin — and that she had ingested 14 purple pills of unknown substance and 14 Lorazepam pills. She later told police she did not recall making suicidal comments to Kraemer.
On March 29, 2018, the state attorney general’s office objected to the defense’s “prejudicial” motion, stating that Rataczak’s medical records were protected by multiple state statutes and federal law.
The state claimed Kraemer was trying to prove character traits of the victim in an attempt to “distract” the court and be deemed innocent of killing her. The state added that whether Rataczak had attempted suicide in the past was not admissible on behalf of Kraemer.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Voigt said he will allow both the defense and the state to make a statement about the facts of the 2002 and 2008 incidents during a jury trial, but he will not allow either side to definitively claim whether the incidents were or were not suicide attempts unless an expert witness answers that question first.
A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 18 through March 1.