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Trial begins for Wisconsin man charged in wife's death

File photo (WLUK/Scott Hurley)

LA CROSSE (AP) -- A trial has begun in western Wisconsin for a man accused of fatally beating his wife and trying to conceal her death by staging a car accident.

Todd Kendhammer is charged with intentional homicide in the September 2016 death of his wife, Barbara, the La Crosse Tribune reported. The couple had been married for 25 years.

A jury was selected Monday in La Crosse County Circuit Court. Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday.

Court documents allege that Todd Kendhammer told investigators he and his wife were in a car when a pipe fell from a flatbed truck and struck his wife. He said he then drove about 100 yards before pulling over, removing the pipe from the windshield and performing CPR on his wife. He then called 911.

But a medical examiner said the woman had extensive blunt-impact injuries on her head and neck that were inconsistent with such an accident. An autopsy report said Barbara Kendhammer had injuries in her neck that were consistent with strangulation, and that she had possible fingernail scratches on her neck and torn fingernails.

Prosecutors said evidence also shows that the windshield was damaged when Barbara Kendhammer wasn't in the vehicle. The passenger door was likely open when the glass was broken because there weren't any pieces of glass in the door's pocket, an analyst said.

Todd Kendhammer also had bloody knuckles and scratches on his neck, which he attributed to injuries he received while working with glass. The La Crosse native worked at Crown Cork and Seal and also did windshield repair work.

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