A man in Wisconsin has had his appeal to overturn a conviction for murdering his wife denied by the Court of Appeals. Douglas Plude had attempted to argue that the state authorities did not give his defense team enough time to look over computer logs which, he claimed, would have exonerated him.
Plude’s wife Genell was discovered slumped over a toilet bowel on October 22 1999 and declared dead later that day from an overdose of Fioricet-codeine, a drug used to treat headaches. Plude and his wife had two computers, and the logs on both showed that one, allegedly used by Genell, had been used to research the drug Fioricet on the night in question ; while the other, which Mr Plude claimed to have been using, had been occupied with an image editing program around the time of Genell’s death.
Authorities seized both computers but did not hand them over to Plude’s defense team until three weeks before the original trial. Plude claimed in his appeal that this did not allow his defense team sufficient time to gather evidence from the computers. Plude was found guilty of first-degree homicide at the trial and sentenced to life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
The Appeals Court refused Plude’s request on the basis that his wife had sustained injuries to the back of her neck while she was apparently being drowned in the toilet bowl ; presumably by leaning head first after being poisoned by Mr Plude with an overdose of the headache tablets. The appeals court also pointed out that the searches for the drug on the computer Plude alleged his wife had been using only went to the first page of results, and no information on dosages was looked at.
Also, Mr Plude had rang Genell’s employers asking about her paychecks and insurance earlier in the day she had died ; and it was alleged at the trial that she had become a lesbian and planned on leaving Plude. The inference is that Mr Plude may have simultaneously used both computers, planning to use the logs on Genell’s computer as his alibi.