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VERDICT: Kuehni convicted of hiding corpse; no conviction on homicide charges

Rose Marie Kuehni (RiverTown file photo)

Rose Marie Kuehni was convicted of hiding a corpse, but a Pierce County jury did not convict her of homicide charges in the 2015 shooting death of her boyfriend.

The 12-person jury, which deliberated for nearly 14 hours, found the Prescott woman not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, but was hung on second-degree homicide.

A Wednesday, Aug. 24, hearing was set to determine how the case moves forward on sentencing and the possibility of re-trying a charge of second-degree homicide.

Kuehni, who claimed self-defense in the Nov. 22, 2015, shooting death of Douglas Bailey, stood silent as the verdict was read just before 2 p.m. Thursday. She remained in Pierce County Jail Thursday on $100,000 cash bond.

The verdict followed numerous questions sent from the jury to presiding Judge James Duvall.

Duvall took a question at about 10 a.m. Thursday seeking clarification on what covers grounds for convicting on first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree homicide and self defense.

Duvall explained it this way:

In order to conclude Rose Marie Kuehni acted in self defense, jurors must conclude that Kuehni believed she was at risk of imminent death or great bodily harm. In order to reach that conclusion, the jury must also agree that a reasonable person facing Kuehni’s circumstances at the time would also respond the same way she did -- shooting  Bailey to death on Nov. 22, 2015.

In order to convict on second-degree homicide, the jury may conclude Kuehni believed she was acting in self defense, but that a reasonable person would not have responded the same way.

The grounds for reaching a first-degree intentional homicide conviction require the jury to find that Kuehni was not at risk of death or great bodily harm and that the level of force used in response to the situation was not necessary.

The 12-member jury was given the case just before noon Wednesday in Pierce County Circuit Court. Kuehni, 45, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the 2015 death of her boyfriend, Bailey.

Attorneys presented closing arguments Wednesday, which began with Pierce County Assistant District Attorney Bill Thorie, who told jurors that Kuehni gunned down an unarmed man, then went to great lengths to cover up the crime.

“She thought she could carry off the perfect crime,” Thorie said.

He conceded that Kuehni likely did endure the lengthy, brutal period of abuse she said happened over the course of three weeks in 2012.

“Getting beat up in 2012 is not a get-out-of-jail free card to shoot your partner,” he said, noting she had many opportunities to leave their Ash Street house on Nov. 22, 2015, when Kuehni shot Bailey.

But experts in domestic abuse say that women abused by their partners often perceive there’s no escape, defense attorney Mark Gherty countered in his closing statement.

When faced with the concept of learned or conditioned helplessness, “she didn’t have a choice,” Gherty told the jury.

“I was believed by her that she had nowhere to go,” he said.

Kuehni admitted during testimony this week that she shot Bailey because she feared he was about to rape and kill her.

“Her perception is: Her life or her death,” Gherty said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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