By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Opening statements were made today in the murder trial of 57-year-old Mark Kusters, who is accused of shooting a Saratoga man to death in stemming from what would become a deadly love triangle.
According to court documents, at 12:56 a.m. on Sept. 15 2016, a 911 call was received stating that a caller reported a man with a gunshot wound on her back porch on the 4700 block of 78th St. South.
Police arrived to find the man with gunshot wounds in his abdomen and chest, and was later identified by the caller as 42-year-old Richard Flynn, of Saratoga. Flynn was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield where he would be pronounced dead at 2:26 a.m.
Authorities spoke to 46-year-old Trina Kusters, who was with Flynn as they arrived. She told them that Mark Kusters was angry at Flynn because she previously had a “one-night-stand” with Flynn less than a month prior. According to Trina Kusters, she told Flynn that she would stop seeing him days after their initial outing.
The night of the murder, Flynn would pay an uninvited visit to the Kusters’ residence, where he stood outside their front door. After noticing Flynn, Trina moved to tell Flynn to get off the property, while Kusters allegedly told his wife that he was going to “kill him” and grabbed his shotgun. Kusters walked down to the final step of his porch where Flynn was close by and threatened him with his life.
“The defendant shot Mr. Flynn on purpose, and he shot him with the intent to kill him – and not in self defense,” said District Attorney Craig Lambert in his opening statements to the jury. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is first-degree intentional homicide.”
However, Defense Attorney Gary Kryshak started to paint a different portrait of the defendant in his opening statements, telling a story of a man caught at the wrong end of a love triangle, and acted completely in self defense. Kryshak pointed out that Flynn entered into Kusters’ property, and Kusters was in his right to use self-defense.
“What happened was Mark got a shotgun; that shotgun was loaded. The reason that shotgun was loaded because before that there was a burglary in the neighborhood,” said Kryshak, who informed jurors that Kusters was urged by a friend to carry a loaded shotgun due to recent criminal activity in the area. “Flynn came around the corner, Mark had the gun up — Trina grabbed him and the gun went off — and the rest is history.”
However, Trina Kusters informed the court that she did not grab the gun at all.
“I did not grab the gun. Period. End of story.”
According to her statement to police at the time, after she told them that Mark stated that he was “going to kill him” there had been further dialogue between Mark Kusters and Flynn during their altercation where Flynn disregarded Kusters’ threats because he “wanted his wife”.
A lingering question through today’s proceedings was how Mark Kusters got the laceration on the side of his forehead, seen in the mugshot photo. The defense pointed out that it was likely put there by his wife during the incident shortly before the shooting.
To the contrary, Trina Kusters informed the court that she did not recall making contact with her husband shortly before the shooting. Police testified that the shotgun used by Kusters had been a birdshot shell, which was suggested by Lambert to possibly have caused the laceration on the side of Kusters’ forehead from the kickback of the shotgun.
Day two of court proceedings will begin at 8:30 a.m. as more witnesses are called to testify.