Homicide defendant describes ongoing violence
By Robert Cloud
Defendants in homicide cases seldom testify on their own behalf at trials.
It opens the defendant to closer scrutiny by the jury and to cross examination by the prosecutor.
Alison Roes’s public defender Troy Nielsen called her to the stand Thursday.
Roe faces life in prison if she is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide for the stabbing death of Craig Dake on March 6, 2015.
Roe testified about her life, her marriage and divorce, and her prior prescription drug abuse. She said she has two adult daughters and two daughters, ages 7 and 8, whose custody she was trying to regain while she as living in Fremont with Dake.
Although they knew each other while attending Waupaca High School, Roe said she and Dake did not start seeing each other until they went with other friends to hear a band perform at the Scandinavia Corn Roast in the summer of 2013.
By September 2013, they were in an intimate relationship.
During their first few months together, Roe said Dake worked hard, was nice to her and was never abusive to her.
In December 2013, the two separated while Dake worked to help a friend, Matt Ferdinand, start a business in Florida.
However, they continued a long-distance relationship through phone calls and text messages.
On Aug. 5, 2014, Dake flew into the Green Bay airport from Florida. Roe, her daughter Shelby and Shelby’s boyfriend, picked Dake up at the airport.
Roe said she was disappointed that night because Dake was not interested in having sex with her after being away for nearly nine months.
“Was this the same old Craig?” Nielsen asked.
“No,” Roe said.
“What was different about Craig,” Nielsen asked.
“He didn’t seem to care. He didn’t seem to want to work,” she replied. “He didn’t want to touch me.”
Nielsen then showed the jury a photo of Roe when Dake first met her. She was 5-foot 4-inches and weighed 120 pounds. She said she now weighs about 155 to 160 pounds.
After they stopped having sex, Roe said she later discovered he was using her cellphone to view online pornography and visit online dating sites.
“If I ever wanted to do anything, he wouldn’t want to. He’d push my hand away,” Roe said. “If we started to do anything, he’d stop and say he had to go to the bathroom.”
Roe testified that Dake no longer worked full time and spent his days drinking.
Nielsen asked Roe to recall the first time that Dake became physically violent with her.
In early September 2014, they were living in the attic of their friends’ home in Oshkosh.
The friends’ daughter, who was in her 20s, had walked to the house. Dake gave the young woman a ride home.
“I thought it was inappropriate,” Roe said.
Roe and Dake began arguing about it in the back yard. Roe said Dake grabbed her by the neck and held her down.
“I didn’t understand it. I had never been choked like that,” Roe said. “It’s like he couldn’t stand me or hated me.”
Roe said the second time that Dake choked her was while they were living in the downtown Waupaca apartment of Wayne Nolen and Tanya Otto.
Dake became angry because he could not find Roe’s cellphone.
A third incident involved Dake pulling Roe out of a car by her hair. This incident happened on Main Street in Waupaca.
“Did all these incidents occur when he was under the influence of alcohol,” Nielsen asked.
“Yes,” Roe replied.
In October 2014, Roe began studying cosmetology at Gil-Tech Academy in Appleton.
District Attorney Veronica Isherwood called several other Gil-Tech students to testify on Wednesday.
Mariah Ketsma, who earlier told investigators that Roe made comments about stabbing Dake, testified that it was clearly a joke.
Ketsma said Roe came to classes with bruises. She said Roe came to school with a cracked rib and initially said she fell. Roe later told her classmates that Dake had pushed her.
Dana Brunmeier, another Gil-Tech student, said Roe came to school about half a dozen times with noticeable bruises on her face and arm.
She testified that Roe also came to school with a boot cast because she injured her foot kicking Dake.
To attend Gil-Tech, Roe obtained a loan to pay tuition and grants to cover living expenses so she could attend school full time.
The grant allowed Roe and Dake to pay for the deposit and first month’s rent on their Jefferson Street apartment in Fremont in late November.
Nielsen asked Roe why she would move in with Dake after he had physically assaulted her at least four times in four months.
“I loved him,” Roe said. “I felt like I needed somebody.”
Once they started living in the apartment, Dake became more controlling, Roe said.
She said Dake told her not to lock the bathroom door and took her keys occasionally to keep her from leaving the apartment.
One day shortly after Christmas 2014, Dake grabbed her by the arm and pushed her down, Roe said. She kicked him, hit his shin and injured her foot, which is why she had to wear the boot cast.
Because her salon classes included spending much of the day standing, Roe began missing classes.
On Jan. 5, 2015, Roe was scheduled to spend time with her young daughters because one of them was celebrating her sixth birthday. Roe was going to meet them at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Roe said she was unable to visit with her daughters because Dake had been drinking, they began arguing and he took her cellphone and car and left.
At noon, she walked to the nearby gas station and called Dake on a pay phone.
“He said he was going to North Dakota,” Roe said. He did not return and Roe was unable to arrange a ride with her daughters.
Roe also testified that she hit Dake with a broom and broke it after he grabbed her by her hoodie from behind and “pulled me very hard.”
She said she was choked in January because she shut the door too hard.
In January, Roe received a text message from Ferdinand, asking where he should send Dake’s W-2 form.
Roe texted back their Jefferson Street address.
Later, Roe began texting Ferdinand about the violence she was experiencing.
On Feb. 3, she texted Ferdinand that she hit Dake with a broom and broke the broom.
Roe’s texts become more explicit in their descriptions of her relationship with Dake.
She tells Ferdinand that Dake no longer wants to have sex with her, that he is choking her.
“I really, really hope it’s not true, but if it is, have him call me because we need to talk,” Ferdinand responds.
Roe said she hoped Ferdinand, who had been Dake’s friend since college, could intervene somehow.
During the exchanges, Roe asked Ferdinand not to inform Dake about their text messages.
On Feb. 8, Roe said Dake took her cellphone for awhile, then returned it later that night. She said she found that Dake had accessed multiple porn sites and online dating on her phone.
“I got really mad,” Roe said. “I started to get into what he was looking at and asking him about it.”
Roe said Dake responded by telling her to mind her own business. Then he grabbed her and held her in a headlock.
“He choked me so bad I was seeing little black dots,” Roe said. “He kicked me in the back.”
Roe then went into the kitchen and grabbed two steak knives from the butcher block.
“Why did you have a knife,” Nielsen asked.
“I didn’t want him to choke me anymore,” Roe said.
“What did you say?” Nielsen asked.
“Try to choke me now,” Roe responded.
Roe said she left the apartment and walked to Main Street in Fremont, where a friend later picked her up.
She said she never used her car following the Feb. 8 incident. And she was in her friend’s pickup truck both times she spoke with the police.
Roe said she did not want to meet with the police and report what had happened.
When another Fremont officer called her later that day, she had changed her mind and agreed to meet him at the sheriff’s office in Waupaca.
After the interview, Roe was arrested. She spent about an hour in jail until her daughters paid bail for her release.
In addition to a bruised elbow, Roe said she felt serious chest pain that made it difficult for her to lie down.
“It would hurt to breathe,” Roe said.
When she went to see a doctor on Feb. 11, she was diagnosed as having a bruised sternum.
On Feb. 15, Dake and Ferdinand spoke on the phone. After the conversation, Roe texted Ferdinand and asked him if Dake told the truth.
Ferdinand said Dake did tell the truth. He also texted Roe and asked her to give Dake a chance, just love him. He reminded her it was Valentine’s Day.
Later, Ferdinand texted, “It’s going to be OK. He sounded very sincere.”
Roe said that for the next few days, Dake “seemed nicer.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Roe’s account of the March 6, 2015, stabbing incident will be reported in the next installment.