Victims' words tell story of violence

Blood evidence and the words of the murder victim highlighted testimony Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court in the murder trial of Michael David Mattson.

Blood evidence and the words of the murder victim highlighted testimony Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court in the murder trial of Michael David Mattson.

Mattson, 56, faces one charge of first-degree murder for the Feb. 19, 1993 beating death of his girlfriend, Myrna Jean Clemons, in the Allouez home the two shared.

Clemons was no stranger to violence. Her words, taken from the transcript of a preliminary hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court, recalled Mattson attacking her during a Nov. 6, 1992, incident. He had come in drunk and passed out on the couch, according to her testimony. When Mattson woke up, he asked Clemons a question. As she tried to answer, violence erupted.

"And then he just took the table -- the coffee table -- and threw it, started banging and throwing things all around, came over and grabbed me out of the chair," Superior Police Officer Chris Moe read from the transcript.

Mattson threw Clemons to the ground and kicked her with his boots.


"He was swinging me around and he threw me on the floor," Moe read from the transcript. "I'm looking up at the ceiling and he put his knees on my arms slapping me in the face."

He grabbed her neck and hit her head on the floor "probably maybe 10 times," Moe read.

He also put papers on her chest and lit them on fire, stood on her neck and shoved a piece of toast down her throat, telling her "This is what I get when I'm in jail when you send me there ...", according to the transcript.

Mattson pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated battery for the incident and one charge of battery for a similar incident five days earlier. He was out on Huber work release while serving jail time for the two assaults when Clemons was killed.

Mattson's attorney, First Assistant Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill, objected to the admission of the transcript. He told Judge George Glonek that it just piles on evidence of his client being a "bad man" and is prejudicial.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to cross examine this witness," he told Glonek.

The judge in December ruled the evidence relevant due to the nearness of time, place and circumstance to the 1993 murder.

Earlier in the day, state crime lab experts took turns hefting a piece of firewood that may have struck the killing blow 15 years ago. Over a foot long and at least five inches in diameter, the log is marked by a protruding knot and three spots where blood-stained bark was cut out for testing.


The blood on all three spots was from Clemons, DNA analyst Jennifer Zawacki testified.

Finding blood on the wood is consistent with Mattson's Oct. 23, 2006, confession to the crime, which was aired Tuesday.

Mattson gave plenty of details about that day, including the attack.

"After we loaded up the truck and we were getting ready to go, Jack was in the truck ... I went back in the house and got a piece of popple and hit Myrna in the head." Mattson said. Then, much more softly, he said, "That must have killed her."

Ken Olson, a forensic scientist, testified that the majority of the blood stains on the log were impact stains -- also known as blood spatter -- which could be created by a beating.

"Usually the first blow does not create impact spatter," he said. "You need a source of blood to create a blood pattern."

If the knot on the log had broken the skin deep enough to hit a source of blood, he said, it could possibly have created the impact spatter on the first hit.

Blood spatter stains were also found on the front and sleeve of Clemons' robe. Olson testified they could have been caused by either a blow or blood being expirated through her nose and mouth during a CPR attempt.


Blood evidence found on the boots worn by Mattson's brother, John, was interpreted differently by both attorneys.

O'Neill asked Olson if the microscopic drops of blood found on the sole of the right boot indicating high velocity impact spatter could have been put there when Clemons was struck.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Boughner asked Olson if the drops could have been left there by John's attempt to give Clemons CPR when they arrived home that afternoon.

Olson said either scenario was possible. If it had been due to the beating, however, Olson said he would have expected more blood spatter than the six tiny drops.

In other testimony, retired Superior Police Officer Richard Berchild told the court that a purse recovered from the home contained checks and $50 in cash. He also said he found it interesting that during his interview with Michael Mattson, the Superior man had a complete memory loss about which brother got to the truck first before they drove off.

"I just felt we were getting to the crux of the matter," Berchild told the court. "He could basically describe his day in detail."

Former Superior Police Officer David Johnson accompanied Michael Mattson to the crime scene five days after the murder.

"I noticed he was kind of paying special attention to the woodpile (on the porch) and that was it," Johnson testified.


The trial is expected to last through Friday.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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