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Nunez case goes to jury

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St. Croix County Deputy District Attorney Michael Nieskes on Monday shows the jury a portrait taken of Cristian Nunez and Courtney Bradford. The jury received the case at about 5 p.m. Monday. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Mike Longaecker)2 / 2

HUDSON --The Cristian Nunez double-homicide case is in the hands of a St. Croix County jury.

A jury of eight women and five men left the courtroom at about 5 p.m. Monday to deliberate the case of Nunez, who is charged in the deaths of Courtney Bradford and her 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine Bradford. The mother and daughter were killed Sept. 1, 2015, at their New Richmond home.

The jury began deliberating after about three hours of closing statements concluding the six-day trial, where the state argued Nunez should be found guilty based on the totality of the evidence, while defense contended the trial didn’t turn up proof connecting the 38-year-old to the crime.

Defense attorney Brian Smestad told the jury that no DNA, blood, hair or fingerprints were ever discovered during the investigation that directly connected Nunez to the crime.

“There’s not one spec of forensic evidence that links my client to what happened here,” he said.

Smestad’s contention, which also took aim at the handling of evidence by law enforcement, ran counter to St. Croix County Deputy District Attorney Michael Nieskes’ argument that Nunez didn’t just kill the Bradfords, but went to lengths to cover up the crime.

Nieskes told the jury Nunez poured gasoline on and around the victims, then lit a fire in the house in the hopes of destroying the evidence and slowing the investigation.

“Fire is as destructive as it gets,” the prosecutor said.

He said Nunez then fled to El Paso, Texas, which borders Mexico. While at a hotel in El Paso a day after the slayings, Nunez used the inn’s WiFi network to look up the nearest border crossing site, busing routes in Mexico and the currency exchange rate, according to Nieskes.

Nunez also allegedly looked up the New Richmond News website.

“There’s not a reasonable hypothesis here, other than his guilt,” Nieskes said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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