The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 5, 2009

Photos, evidence shown to jury in murder trial

ROCHESTER — Shortly after a noon break Thursday, William Klumpp Jr. knelt over a “Banker’s Box” and shuffled through dozens of pieces of evidence he was hoping to submit at the murder trial of 26-year-old Michael Stanley Zabawa.

The assistant attorney general finally stopped and asked fellow prosecutor Waseca County Attorney Paul Dressler to help him sort things out. Klumpp had hoped to call up to seven witnesses. He called two, and one was on the witness stand for less than a half hour at the end of the day.

Thursday was what some attorneys refer to as “CSI day” at the trial. That’s when prosecutors go through the meticulous task of entering mounds of evidence found at a crime scene.

There were stacks of photographs and bags full of physical evidence, such as spent and unspent shotgun shells, that had been gathered from the home where three members of the Kruger family of rural Waseca were found shot two years ago.

“I’m sure we put in over 100 pieces of evidence today,” Klumpp said later.

When the work was done, Christine Funk, one of Zabawa’s three attorneys, asked how much of the evidence could be used to place her client in the Krugers’ home. She asked if the team of Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators found any fingerprints, clothing fibers, blood samples or hair follicles in the house.

“Did you find any physical evidence linking Mr. Zabawa to the inside of the Kruger house,” Funk asked Gary Walton, the crime scene team leader working the case.

He answered, “No.”

Jurors who already had seen many graphic photos of the murder scene at the farmhouse south of Waseca were shown dozens more Thursday as Walton filled the fourth day of testimony in Zabawa’s trial in Rochester. Zabawa is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 40-year-old Tracy Kruger and Kruger’s 13-year-old son, Alec.

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