One fact that both the prosecution and the defense counsel in the Rory Kuenzi homicide trial agree on is that Adam Klotzbuecher is a liar.
Klotsbuecher admitted Tuesday, Nov. 16, that he lied when questioned by police in 2004, lied on the two statements that he signed, and lied under oath twice during two civil depositions in the fall of 2006.
Klotzbuecher also said he lied on the morning of March 19, 2009, during a John Doe hearing. In the afternoon, Kloetzbuecher changed his story after the prosecution offered him immunity.
Now the jurors must decide if Klotzbuecher was still lying when he testified Tuesday, Nov. 16. Klotzbuecher said he helped Kuenzi carry Kevin McCoy’s body off Butts Road and into a ditch in the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 2004. He first told that version of events at the afternoon John Doe hearing.
Klotzbuecher’s testimony Tuesday began with a recounting of his troubled youth. His father was not around and he began drinking by age 17. He dropped out of school his senior year at Weyauwega-Fremont High School, in large part due to his problems with alcohol and drug abuse.
Klotzbuecher said he has four drunken driving convictions and 12 criminal convictions, nine of which were prior to McCoy’s death. In October 2004, Klotzbuecher was 18 years old.
The night of the crash that killed McCoy, Klotzbuecher asked an adult friend to buy him a case of beer. He said he began drinking that beer with Kuenzi and others at a friend’s home in Waupaca, then brought what was left of the beer to the party at Deanna Kurth and Michelle Klein’s home in Farmington.
Klotzburger gave a friend, Steve Johnson, a ride to the party from the friend’s house in Waupaca. Rory Kuenzi and Robert Wollangk also drove their vehicles there from the friend’s house. Walter Engel was Kuenzi’s passenger.
When they left the party some time after 3:30 a.m., Kuenzi was drunk, Klotzbuecher said.
“He was slamming beers and just hanging out with everybody,” Klotsbuecher said. “We were both there the same amount of time and I’m sure he was just as drunk as I was.”
According to both Klotzbuecher and Engel, Klotzbuecher backed out of the driveway first, but pulled north on Butts Road and let Kuenzi, with Engel as a passenger, take the lead going south on Butts Road.
Engel has testified that Klotzbuecher tried to pass Kuenzi. The defense argues that both Engel and Kuenzi were looking back to their left when they heard a thump on the front right of the vehicle.
Klotzbuecher denied trying to pass Kuenzi. He testified Tuesday that he was driving about one car length behind Kuenzi when he “heard a loud thump and saw something fly out from under the truck.”
Klotzbuecher said they stopped their vehicles right away and saw McCoy’s body in the road in front of Kuenzi’s truck.
Kuenzi then said they needed to move the body off the road, Klotzbuecher said.
Klotzbuecher said he lifted McCoy by grabbing the front of his coat and shirt while Kuenzi held McCoy’s legs. They then moved the body into the ditch.
“How did he look?” asked Dennis Krueger, the state’s prosecutor, regarding McCoy.
“Not good,” Klotzbuecher replied, his eyes tearing and voice quavering. He added that he looked at McCoy’s face and saw blood.
“Could you tell if he was alive?”
Did you know if he was alive?”
“What did you do?”
“We carried him into the ditch.”
“Is that how you left him, in the ditch?”
Pointing to the jury, Krueger asked, “Why should they believe you now?”
“I want to do the right thing for Kevin’s family,” Klotzbuecher replied.
After McCoy’s death
However, the jury learned that Klotzbuecher did not go home immediately after the incident. He testified that he drove to State Highway 54, then to U.S. 10, where he went drove to the State 22 exit that leads to Waupaca High School. He then drove back onto U.S. 10 and headed back to the home of Kurth and Klein.
Klotzbuecher said he returned to the party because he had told Steve Johnson that he would give him a ride home. Once at the party, Klotzbuecher stayed because Johnson did not want to leave.
He did not tell any of those at the party about what had happened to McCoy.
Later, Klotzbuecher decided to purchase some cigarettes and went to his car to drive to the truck stop near the U.S. 10 and State 54 intersection.
As he was leaving, Klotzbuecher drove his car into the ditch. Several of those who were still at the party attempted to help remove the car, but were unsuccessful. The car would be towed later that day and Klotzbuecher had to contact the sheriff’s office to get his car.
Klotzbuecher said he began walking to the truck stop.
When Kuenzi’s attorney, Troy Neilsen, asked Klotzbuecher if he was bothered by walking past McCoy’s body and driving past it twice after the incident and prior to its discovery, Klotsbuecher said no.
Nielsen also pressed Klotzbuecher on the more than dozen calls he made from his cell phone shortly before and shortly after 5 a.m. Oct. 23, 2004. Phone records show that Klotzbuecher made six calls to Kuenzi and eight calls to Klein.
When Nielsen asked about the calls, Klotzbuecher said he could not remember them. When Krueger asked about the calls, Klotzbuecher remembered trying to let the other partygoers know that he had seen a squad car on Butts Road.
Nielsen repeatedly asked Klotzbuecher about his prior statements to investigators.
The first time he spoke with police, Klotzbuecher claimed that he left the party at 5 a.m. When police confronted him about this apparent discrepancy, Klotsbuecher said he had forgotten about leaving earlier.
Initially, Klotzbuecher said he was driving his car beside Kuenzi’s truck on Butts Road and that he been “messing around.” Then, he denied trying to pass Kuenzi.
Initially, Klotzbuecher said he and Kuenzi did not come to a complete stop after the collision until they reached the stop sign at the intersection of Butts Road and State 54. Then, he said they stopped immediately after the incident.
In April 2005, investigators wired Klotzbuecher to record a conversation that he had with Walter Engel regarding McCoy’s death, even though Klotzbuecher had not yet admitted that he had himself moved the body. In that conversation, Engel denied knowing anything about moving the body, according to Nielsen.
Nielson also noted that Klotzbuecher lied about the incident during two civil depositions related to the lawsuit McCoy’s parents have filed against Kuenzi.
“You lied during that deposition?” Nielson asked.
“Yes,” Klotzbuecher replied.
“In fact, you lied during both depositions, didn’t you?”
“Even though you have given the same oath you’ve given us today.”
Walter Engel, the passenger in Kuenzi’s truck the night McCoy was killed, was on the stand Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
He testified that Kuenzi was clearly intoxicated that night of the party.
“He was drunk when he got there?” Krueger asked Engel.
“Too drunk to drive, in your opinion?”
“Yes,” Engel said.
Engel, who has been charged with perjury due to his testimony at the John Doe hearing, was not asked any questions regarding whether Kuenzi stopped after the accident. He was exercising his Fifth Amendment rights.
However, Engel did testify that Klotzbuecher was attempting to pass Kuenzi on Butts Road and that he and Kuenzi were looking back and to their left toward Klotzbuecher’s car when they heard a thump. Engel is blind in his left eye. Nielsen demonstrated Engel’s lack of peripheral vision by standing behind and to Engel’s left and asking him to indicate the color of the marker Nielsen was holding. Engel needed to turn back, his chin touching his shoulder, in order to do this.
After Engel was released from testifying Tuesday, the defense counsel read portions of a transcript of the John Doe hearing. In that testimony, Engel said Kuenzi did not stop because they thought they hit a deer. He also denied that Kuenzi and Klotzbuecher carried McCoy’s body off the road.