Murder trial begins in Washington County

CREATED Aug 11, 2014

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WEST BEND - Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a man accused of killing a teenaged girl in Washington County last year. Jessie Blodgett of Hartford was found dead in her bedroom. A friend, Daniel Bartelt, is accused of killing her. A pool of 70 potential jurors packed a room across the hall from the courtroom. Attorneys and the judge needed to widdle that down to 12 jurors and two alternates.

Bartelt is in custody, but was allowed to wear street clothes as opposed to an orange jump suit as potential jurors got their first look at him.

The case got a lot of publicity last year and the judge hopes that won't taint the jury's views.

"Disregard what you read about in the paper and make your decision about whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty based solely on what you see or hear in court," said Washington County Judge Todd Martens.

Bartelt was a friend who once dated Jessie's friend. He said he and Jessie had been getting together a lot in the months before her death.

Bartelt is also a suspect in an attack at a Richfield park on a woman walking her dog. Details of that were included in the criminal complaint charging Bartelt, but the judge decided to focus this trial solely on Jessie's murder. That came into question however, when one juror said he had heard of it.

"I can't presume if this juror would share this information with the other jurors in the course of deliberating whether Mr. Bartelt is guilty or not guilty," said Judge Martens.

The trial is expected to take up to two weeks.