Grave Digging Case Goes to Trial in SW Wisconsin

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

Lancaster, WI - The trial begins in the bizarre attempted sexual abuse case that shocked a small Tri-state community. One man is on trial for theft and attempted third degree sexual assault. He's accused of trying to dig up a dead body to have sex with it.

The trial began Monday for 23-year-old Nicholas Grunke. Prosecutors say Grunke, his twin brother Alex and their friend Dustin Radke were caught at a Cassville Cemetery in Wisconsin in 2006.

Prosecutors say they were trying to dig up the body of a 20-year-old woman recently killed in a motorcycle crash.

In court Nick Grunke and Dustin Radke told the jury conflicting stories about what happened that night. Prosecutors say the evidence investigators found inside the van tells a twisted story. A tarp, duct tape, a crow bar and a box of condoms.

Dadke testified, "Nick wanted this young girl's body.(And why did he want it?) So he could have sex with it."

While on the stand, Nick Grunke admitted he planned to take the young woman's body home with him, but says sex was not on his mind. Nick Grunke said, "I was going to take it to a clearing in the woods and just kind of spend time with it....(ok, but not have sex with it?) No."

Grunke described a scene from the movie, "I'll Bury You Tomorrow" in which the main character slow danced with a corpse. He said he only planned to emulate what he saw in that movie.

But Radke tells a different story. Radke said, "Nick said numerous times over the years how he'd love to have sex with a dead body because he wouldn't want to have a woman to come home to holler at, or complain or nag at him. And he said that more than once."

Radke says when Grunke showed him the young woman's obituary he knew right away that Grunke intended to have sex with her body.

Both men said, while en route to Cassville, Alex Grunke stopped to buy a box of condoms. But during testimony each man said it was the other's idea to buy those condoms.

Closing arguments and jury deliberation are set to begin Tuesday morning.

Alex Grunke has already been convicted of attempted theft and vandalism, but not sexual assault.

This case created a stir across Wisconsin as the state discovered it does not have any law against necrophilia, that is sexually abusing a corpse. But the State Supreme Court ruled sexual assault laws apply even if the victim is dead.

In Iowa, sexual contact with a corpse is a class D felony, carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.
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