A look at Eric Sackett’s defense lawyer’s homicide trial experience

The homicide trial of Eric Sackett will continue on Monday with the defense calling its witnesses. Sackett is being represented by attorney Christopher Zachar, who some might remember from a high profile stabbing case in at a La Crosse Kwik Trip.

June 2, 2013, was a day like any other at the Cass Street Kwik Trip. But things changed after Mitrel Anderson entered the store at 3:12 a.m.

“It is absolutely undisputed that Mitrel swung a knife and killed Demario Lee,” said Anderson’s attorney Christopher Zachar during opening statements of the trial.

Security camera footage showed Anderson and a group of men near the restroom. That’s where he stabbed Demario Lee, which was not disputed during the trial.

“No, I didn’t want to kill him,” said Anderson, during his testimony.

The state argued he didn’t check on his victim or try to get help. His attorneys, which included Zachar, claimed it was self-defense.

“There is a tremendous difference legally between someone who swings in anger and someone who is put into a position where he reasonably fears for his life,” said Zachar during the trial.

It was a strategy that ultimately paid off for the defense. After about six and a half hours of deliberation, the jury found Anderson not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.

“The justice system really works,” said Anderson after the verdict.

But a different homicide case that Zachar also took to trial did not have the same outcome. Police alleged Zachary Nathan Davis and his partner stabbed someone they were staying with at the Econo Lodge Hotel in Tomah. The victim’s body was found on March 11, 2015.

“He was on the floor just within the door of room 118. There was broken glass on the floor, blood on the walls and on the floor,” said Tomah Police Department Investigator Rob Walensky, during testimony in April 2015.

The defense claimed Davis killed Derek Magnuson because the victim tried to assault his girlfriend. But the jury thought otherwise and convicted Davis of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force and driving or operating a vehicle without consent. He’s serving a life sentence.

Christopher Zachar and his current client Erik Sackett will be in court Monday to present their case. The defense will start to call its witnesses after court returns around 8:45 a.m. News 8 will continue to stream the trial live on our Facebook page and website.

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