KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – Mark Jensen trembled slightly as he was told he will never leave prison for suffocating his wife after poisoning her with antifreeze.
"I've come to the conclusion that if I were to impose anything less than the maximum sentence in this case, I'd feel I had cheated the other people because your crime is so enormous, so monstrous, so unspeakably cruel, that it overcomes all other considerations," Judge Bruce Schroeder said Wednesday.
Jensen, 48, was found guilty last week of first-degree intentional homicide, a crime that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The judge could have stipulated that Jensen be eligible for parole. Schroeder decided against that option.
Julie Jensen, 40, was found dead in her home in Pleasant Prairie on Dec. 3, 1998, after being sick for a few days. Prosecutors said she was poisoned with antifreeze and then suffocated.
She had suspected for some time that her husband of 14 years was plotting against her; she left a letter with a neighbor to give to police in the event of her death. Jurors cited it as a key piece of evidence in their decision to convict Jensen.
"I pray that I am wrong and nothing happens, but I am suspicious of Mark's suspicious behaviors and fear for my early demise," Julie Jensen wrote. She said she refused to leave because of their two young sons.
Mark Jensen claimed his wife was depressed, killed herself and framed him for her death.
The couple's sons, 18-year-old David and 13-year-old Douglas, submitted a letter before the sentencing, expressing their belief that their father is innocent and asking the judge to give him parole as soon as possible.
"If we ever need help, advice or just someone to talk to, we know we can go to him for anything," said the letter read by Jensen's attorney, Craig Albee.
David was 8 and Douglas 3 when their mother died. They now live with Jensen's current wife, Kelly, with whom Mark Jensen was having an affair when Julie Jensen died.
Prosecutor Robert Jambois said Jensen had tormented his wife with pornographic pictures and accusations of infidelity, and then moved his girlfriend into his house before his wife's wake.
"Mark Jensen treated his wife the way some demented people torture small animals or pick the wings off flies," Jambois said.
Julie Jensen's brother Paul Griffin urged the judge to show no mercy.
"He showed no mercy to her children as he ignored their pleas to bring their sick mother to the hospital," he said. "He propped her up in bed while she was barely able to breath, barely able to speak — for her children to see."
Until recently, prosecutors were barred from using such evidence as Julie Jensen's letter because of constitutional guarantees giving criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers.
But the Wisconsin Supreme Court created new evidence rules, guided by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that laid the groundwork for the use of Julie Jensen's letter and statements to police.
The letter might become the basis for an appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a California case with similar elements in April. Legal experts say if the court overturns that conviction, it could pave the way for Mark Jensen to get a new trial.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.