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Barbara Kendhammer's injuries take center stage in day three of trial

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The Kendhammer murder trial continued Wednesday as Barbara Kendhammer's injuries and Todd Kendhammer's account of what happened were put to the test.

Another full courtroom watched as prosecutors forged ahead, saying Todd Kendhammer's story isn't consistent with what the evidence shows. All the while, the defense tried to poke holes in their argument.

Most of Wednesday morning was devoted to testimony by the forensics pathologist who handled Barbara Kendhammer's autopsy.

Kathleen McCubbin, a former employee of the Dane County medical examiner’s office, explained her reasoning for believing Barbara Kendhammer's injuries were not consistent with the impact of a pipe as "the multitude of injuries, the lack of any impact that I feel is consistent with a pipe impaling her and the concerning injuries on the neck, in particular."

The defense repeatedly questioned on the possibility that some of Barbara Kendhammer's injuries came from elsewhere, such as from a mug in the car, her body moving or medical care after the alleged accident.

"In each of these movements, there is the opportunity, is there not, for the body to incur a scrape or contusion?” defense attorney Stephen Hurley asked.

"That is a possibility, yes,” McCubbin said.

"Could some of her injuries also be consistent with a beating?” assistant district attorney Sue Donskey asked later.

"Yes, some of her injuries could be consistent with an assault or beating as well, yes,” McCubbin answered.

In the criminal complaint, Todd Kendhammer said he was traveling to co-worker Justin Heim's house the morning of the incident to fix a windshield on a truck belonging to Heim's friend, later identified as Ben Pfaff. But Heim said he hadn’t spoken to Todd Kendhammer in weeks, maybe months, before the incident, and Pfaff said he didn’t know Todd Kendhammer and hadn’t talked to him about fixing his windshield.

"Are you aware of any reason Todd Kendhammer would have been coming to your house on the morning of Sept. 16 of 2016?" Donskey asked Heim.

"No,” he responded.

The defense brought up how La Crosse County investigator Mark Yehle got certain information, including the truck's description, from Todd Kendhammer while he was distressed at the scene.

"Despite the fact he said to you repeatedly, ‘I don't recall; I wasn't looking at it,’ you pressed him for more details, correct?"

"Yes,” Yehle said.

Witness Randy Ehrler was traveling on Bergum Coulee Road at around the time of the incident and testified that he saw a car parked similarly to how Todd Kendhammer's car was parked. Ehrler said police questioned him a day or two later.

"So they're contacting you about something you hadn't paid much attention to at the time, is that correct?" Hurley asked.

"Correct,” Ehrler answered.

Ehrler saw that the passenger door was open, and he didn’t did see anyone in the vehicle or windshield damage.

“I saw no damage whatsoever,” Ehrler said.

The prosecution also focused on Barbara Kendhammer's work schedule.

Three of her West Salem school district coworkers, some who described themselves as her friends, took the stand Wednesday afternoon.

While one supervisor said flex hours, or changing the time you come to work, is common, the West Salem school nutrition director contradicted that, saying they didn't use flex hours, and it was very unusual that Barbara Kendhammer hadn't shown up for her 8 a.m. shift.

Court resumes at 8:30 a.m. Thursday News 8 is livestreaming the trial.

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