Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Part 1 - A Matter of Credibility

        Although the trial of Laurie Bembenek was based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence, the most important piece of physical evidence was the off duty gun of Bembenek’s then husband, Elfred O. Schultz, Jr.  Schultz was a Detective on the Milwaukee Police Department and divorced from the murder victim, Christine J. Schultz.   Detective Schultz testified at both Bembenek’s preliminary hearing and jury trial that he had been on duty at the time of the murder and that Bembenek was the only person who had access to his off duty gun at that time.  In essence, Schultz’s testimony convicted Bembenek of murder.  But, was Schultz credible?  (Schultz and his partner had each filed two reports that omitted their true activities on the night of the murder.  That report will soon be posted on this site.) 

         Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann, whose signature appears on the Criminal Complaint charging Bembenek with the murder, and Assistant District Attorney Robert “Bud” Kraemer, the trial prosecutor, both knew that Schultz had been under criminal investigation by the Milwaukee Police Department.  The investigation related to Schultz’s Marriage to Bembenek, his testimony in an unemployment hearing, his testimony in the preliminary hearing, and his involvement in nude activities.  (The nude activities and related evidence of criminal conduct will be posted on this site in the future) 

            On November 19, 1981, a month before Bembenek’s trial was to begin, Detective Lieutenants Craig Hastings and James Kelly contacted District Attorney McCann seeking charges against Schultz.  Page 5 of their official report states, in part, “It is our understanding that elements of portions of our investigation had been previously discussed between Mr. McCann and Mr. Kraemer, but that Mr. McCann had requested our Department not to pursue them until Schultz had testified at the preliminary hearing, and then we could then proceed with his approval.  Since the preliminary hearing has already taken place, it is our understanding that the District Attorney’s Office would co-operate with any investigation that we may develop.  Upon entering Mr. McCann’s office, we advised him that we requested to discuss the Schultz matter and recent developments in our investigation.  He stated that he had talked with Mr. Kraemer and said to us, ‘Do you want Bembenek or do you want Schultz?’”   There is absolutely no doubt that McCann knew that he could not convict Bembenek if he disclosed the truth about Schultz’s credibility.  In fact, he gave Schultz immunity, without ever disclosing to Bembenek why, and used his testimony to put his (Schultz’s) off duty gun in her hands.  The results are history.

            Private Investigator Ira B. Robins and Attorney Mary L. Woehrer, who have worked decades in Bembenek’s behalf, obtained related internal affairs reports in 1991 after a protracted legal battle against the City of Milwaukee.    


                  See Part 2 Retaliation Against the Medical Examiner

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