WI v. McCandless: Latest Updates

Posted at 9:00 AM, October 23, 2019 and last updated 4:19 PM, August 25, 2022

BY COURT TV STAFF

Ezra McCandless, 22, allegedly murdered 24-year-old Alex Woodworth on March 22, 2018, in the Town of Spring Brook. McCandless claims her actions were in self-defense. Prosecutors say she intentionally lured Woodworth to his death to rid herself of inner turmoil.

Here’s a timeline of events:

2017

  • Nov. 2017: Ezra McCandless and Alex Woodworth begin a sexual relationship while she’s dating Jason Mengal.

2018

  • Feb. 5: Mengal leaves for military training for two weeks.
  • Feb. 26: Mengal initiates a rape report to police after McCandless tells him she was sexually assaulted by his best friend, John Hansen. McCandless tells police she had sex with Woodworth during those two weeks as well.
  • March 3: Woodworth is interviewed in the rape investigation. He tells police McCandless told him she willingly had sex with Hansen, then regretted it.
  • March 22: McCandless shows up at a private residence covered in blood and mud. She is taken to a local hospital.
  • March 23: Woodworth’s body is found in the rear seat of McCandless’s car.
  • March 24: McCandless changes her statement.
  • April 6: McCandless is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

    Dunn County Sheriff’s Office

2019

  • Feb. 6: McCandless withdraws her plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
  • Oct. 14: Jury selection.
TRIAL BEGINS
  • Oct. 15: Day 1
    • Opening statements in the trial of WI v. McCandless begin.
    • Prosecutor Andrea Nodolf says the motive for murder was the defendant’s desire to “recapture [the] love of her boyfriend”
    • Prosecutor called it “rage” killing – stab wounds pierced brain, lung, and scrotum
    • Defense Attorney Aaron Nelson explains in his opening Ezra McCandless feared for her life and was defending herself
    • Claims the defendant’s memory lapses about the confrontation with the victim are due to her PTSD
    • Medical Examiner testifies victim sustained 16 stab wounds -including penetrating wounds to his brain, lung, and scrotum
  • Oct. 16: Day 2
    • Crime scene pictures show a violent struggle inside the back seat of the defendant’s car
    • Defendant’s friends testify she was conflicted about her boyfriend
    • Friends witness drama at Racy’s when the boyfriend finds out defendant has been cheating
    • Victim’s friends say he loved the defendant
  • Oct. 17: Day 3
    • Witnesses testify about the defendant’s unusual behavior the day she killed Alexander Woodworth
    • Dashcam video captures Woodworth and McCandless together hours before he is killed
    • Jason Mengel tells police defendant was not herself
  • Oct. 18: Day 4
    • Defendant tells a nurse she thinks she’s been raped but can’t recall details of the attack
    • Police officer catches the defendant in what appears to be a lie
    • Drone footage captures remoteness of the crime scene
  • Oct. 21: Day 5
  • Oct. 22: Day 6
    • Defendant’s adoptive father is called to the witness stand to discuss knife
    • Defendant’s father claims he gave defendant a knife to put in her car
    • DNA expert says handle of knife recovered from the crime scene had a mix of DNA from the defendant and victim
    • Forensic imaging expert photographed Defendant’s clothes to determine whether cuts in top layer of clothing align with cuts in underlying garments
  • Oct. 23: Day 7
    • Ezra McCandless whimpers and cries in a videotaped interview with police and expresses regret for having gone to John Hansen’s house where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
    • Defendant’s ex-boyfriend Jason Mengel testifies about their love and her betrayal
    • Mengel says he was worried something bad would happen at the McCandless and Woodworth meeting
    • Jury reads McCandless’ journal entries the day before Woodworth’s death
  • Oct. 24: Day 8
    • Defendant’s ex-boyfriend Jason Mengel is cross-examined by defense attorney Deja Vishny
    • Victim’s roommate, Matthew Schreiner, testifies about his friend Alex and his relationship with Ezra McCandless.
    • Victim’s friend Kort Fox testifies about Woodworth’s kind nature
    • Mishelle Wright, a Sr. Criminal Analyst at the Wisconson Crime Lab assembled communication by the defendant and created a timeline
    • Ryan Prock, Eau Claire P.D., testifies about his role in the investigation of the victim’s death and his interview with Ezra McCandless in connection with the Hansen alleged assault.

 

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