WOODSTOCK - Attorneys will present their closing arguments Thursday morning in Gary Gauger’s trial seeking millions in damages against the county for alleged malicious prosecution.
Both sides rested this morning after Gauger’s wife, Sue Rekenthaler, testified about the toll Gauger’s wrongful conviction from his parents’ gruesome 1993 murders and his ordeal leading to his eventual exoneration has taken on him. She visited him in jail and prison and the two began dating in 1997 after he was released.
“The longer he was there, the sadder and more confused [he was,]” Rekenthaler said. “It was almost like watching the lights go out of a house.”
Gauger, 57, has maintained that officers refused to let him leave or sleep during an 18-hour interrogation shortly after his parents were discovered dead with their throats slit on the Richmond-area farm where the three lived. He said he presented a hypothetical account of how he might have committed the crimes as officers lied to him about finding his bloodied clothes, sheets and knife on the farm.
But the detectives denied Gauger presented a hypothetical situation. Rather, they said he described, step-by-step, how he committed the murders. His account didn’t fully match the injuries the two victims suffered, but police did not learn of the additional injuries until the autopsy - which was after the alleged confession and after they arrested Gauger.
Of the detectives named in the lawsuit, Gene Lowery has been promoted to undersheriff and Beverly Hendle and Chris Pandre have retired.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Thursday afternoon. Gauger is seeking damages for the 3.5 years he spent behind bars and for post traumatic stress disorder.