By Joe Bachman
An 18-year-old faced a jury on Tuesday for charges of reckless homicide for the death of his ex-girlfriend’s mother.
Miguel Angel-Oertel, of Nekoosa, is charged with first degree reckless homicide. According to police reports, on Aug. 17, 2015, officers were dispatched to a domestic disturbance where Oertel had shot 47-year-old Theresa Coates with a shotgun. Oertel then turned the gun on himself, and shot himself in the face – Oertel survived his injuries.
Opening statements made by District Attorney Craig Lambert echoed his intention to jurors to show that Oertel committed the murder of Coates with utter disregard for human life.
“He was in someone’s house with a loaded shotgun,” said Lambert. “The shotgun was pointed at Coates – his finger was on the trigger and according to his own statement, the shotgun that killed Theresa Coates was his chosen means to take his own life.”
Attorney Michael Hughes made his opening statements to jurors, and suggested while Oertel was the main factor in the cause of Coates’ death, there are issues of disagreement with the district attorney, and those issues are significant. Lambert argued that Oertel should not be found guilty of reckless homicide, but instead negligent homicide.
“Through the course of this trial I will demonstrate that Miguel Oertel did cause the death of Theresa Coates,” said Hughes. “But he did not do so with utter disregard for human life – he was not aware of the risk of death, or great bodily harm that his actions caused.”
Theresa Coates’ daughter was the first to testify, and told the court that she called police for a welfare check on Oertel out of fear he would take his own life before she arrived. The teenager stated that she tried grabbing the shotgun from Oertel outside before he could enter the house and chased him around the yard, but Oertel went into the home before she could take any further action.
The young woman testified that she could only see her mother’s back, and at one point Oertel’s finger on the trigger. She heard her mother cry out but did not see who pulled the trigger as the shot rang out.
Seconds later, Oertel turned the gun on himself.
The daughter stated that she grabbed a pink towel and tried putting pressure on her mother’s wound, which was in the abdomen, soon after the shooting as she called 911.
“She was trying to say something, but I couldn’t hear her,” said the victim. “I told her I loved her.”
Later in the day, Miguel Oertel would take the stand. He recounted the events of that day for the jury, and said his intent was to kill only himself, and not to harm others.
According to Oertel, Coates’ daughter had just broken up with him, and Oertel wanted to show her what he was going to shoot herself. According to Oertel, he did not expect too see Theresa Coates at the residence, but said he thought she could help him.
Coates however, was allegedly unaware of Oertel’s intentions and grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and Oertel instinctively pulled back. As Oertel’s hand slipped from pulling the gun away from Coates, he pulled the trigger.
Both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases, and will make closing statements tomorrow.
Oertel faces up to 60 years imprisonment if convicted. Check back for daily updates.