A Columbia County jury on Thursday night found a Rio man not guilty of killing his girlfriend in 2013.
Defense attorney Andrew Martinez said of all the cases he’s taken on in his career, the State of Wisconsin vs. Patrick A. Kraemer is one of the most “absurd.”
Martinez claims prosecutors and law enforcement arrived at a conclusion partway through an investigation and used what he called their “confirmation bias” to paint Kraemer as guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.
The jury returned a not guilty verdict at 7:21 p.m. Thursday. Afterward, Kraemer, 50, was released from bond conditions.
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Robert Kaiser said earlier in the day during a rebuttal that he takes issue with Kraemer not taking responsibility for causing the death of Traci Rataczak.
“How it ended for her was not her choice,” Kaiser said, refuting the defense’s claim Rataczak committed suicide.
Pointing to voicemails left on Rataczak’s phone just after her death, Kaiser said Kraemer reduced his girlfriend of six years to the worst possible slang, and that jurors would have to decide if the language was a not-so-hilarious pun or a vicious dehumanization of a person who was dead in the basement.
“His first message is, ‘Who is the big guy?’ The big guy is the murderer, that’s who the big guy is,” Kaiser said.
Martinez said Kraemer was just drunkenly rambling on the phone and didn’t intend physical harm.
Kraemer also was in tears and terribly affected by trying to cope with the loss of Rataczak after her death, Martinez said, saying his client had genuine reactions.
Kaiser said Kraemer on multiple occasions entered the basement where Rataczak’s body hung from an electrical cord and claims to have not noticed.
“He kept telling everybody he never saw her. ... He saw her! He saw her!” Kaiser said, pointing at jurors and raising his voice. “Only the person who killed her could deny seeing that and hope someone would believe him.”
Martinez likened Kraemer’s claim that he didn’t see the body as similar to being “on autopilot” while driving a car on a familiar road.
He added that if a person had staged a suicide scene, they would not have told police they ever went into that area, as Kraemer did.
Martinez said he would never try to tell jurors that Kaiser and various law enforcement officials are liars.
“They’re just wrong,” Martinez said. “The state is throwing things at the wall and hoping something will stick.”
Martinez said Kaiser dismissed court testimony from two forensic pathologists because their responses didn’t fit the narrative he wanted. He added that the state’s timeline of events was incomplete.
He said the defense doesn’t fault prosecutors for being suspicious of Rataczak’s death, but he said no matter how much objective evidence was presented, the state’s opinion that Kraemer was guilty could not be swayed.
“Traci’s dead because Traci killed herself,” Martinez said. “It was true six years ago. It was true two weeks ago. It’s true now.”
This article was updated to correctly state that Robert John Kaiser works for the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office.