MENOMONIE — In October, a jury of Dunn County residents will likely have to decide if Ezra McCandless, 21, of Stanley stabbed Alexander L. Woodworth, 24, of Eau Claire in self-defense, or if she intended to kill him without provocation.
Prosecutors and McCandless’ lawyers argued in Dunn County Court Tuesday about whether drawings of knives and several of Woodworth’s journals should be shown to a jury.
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Richard DuFour and Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf, who are prosecuting the case, said two drawings of knives should be included as evidence.
Inside McCandless’ father’s residence, authorities found two drawings in a bag belonging to McCandless, Nodolf said.
The drawings were of “a similar knife to what was used (in the stabbing)”; that makes the drawings “highly relevant to motive and intent to kill Alexander Woodworth,” Nodolf said.
However, there’s no evidence McCandless created the drawings, except that they were found in her belongings, Nodolf said.
One of McCandless’ attorneys, Aaron Nelson of Hudson, called the drawings “irrelevant and not admissible.”
Judge James Peterson did not rule out the drawings, but he warned prosecutors that he believed there are problems with introducing them as evidence without proof McCandless created them.
McCandless’ defense team also has argued that over 100 pages of Woodworth’s journals and writings should be allowed into the trial as evidence.
The journals had many references to cannibalism and some to death and suicide, according to court documents.
According to her attorneys’ court filings, McCandless knew the contents of the journals, and therefore knew she needed to fight back when he attacked her.
But Woodworth was a philosophy student who intended to someday teach philosophy; prosecutors say the references to cannibalism, suicide and death are metaphors, according to court filings.
The journals would possibly “confuse the issues and mislead the jury,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors state in court documents: “It is clear that the defendant could not have had a fear that (Woodworth’s) writings about death and suicide meant that he was about to physically attack her on March 22, 2018, before she brutally stabbed the victim 16 times.”
According to a criminal complaint, authorities found Woodworth dead in a vehicle in the town of Spring Brook on March 23, 2018.
McCandless, who was found in Dunn County, later told authorities she cut the word “boy” into her arm after she stabbed Woodworth several times.
In court filings, prosecutors contend McCandless intentionally lured Woodworth to Dunn County and stabbed him.
McCandless’ attorneys have argued Woodworth attacked McCandless in the car on March 22, and she stabbed him in self-defense.
Medical evidence might not shed any light on the question of self-defense.
Dr. Richard Tovar of Delafield, an emergency medicine physician, testified Tuesday that Woodworth’s wounds were caused by “sharp, consistent penetrations,” but he couldn’t determine which wound caused Woodworth’s later death.
Tovar said he also couldn’t say if Woodworth’s wounds were inflicted in self-defense.
“I don’t have any evidence … that they were caused by self-defense, which is a good possibility, or not by self-defense,” Tovar said.
Tovar’s testimony will be allowed into the trial, Peterson said Tuesday.
Motion hearings have been set for Sept. 27 and Oct. 7.
McCandless’ jury trial is slated to begin Oct. 14 and last up to three weeks.