Defense attorney accuses DA of being caught coaching witness

Prosecutors in Kenosha react with disbelief to a line of questioning in the Zachariah Anderson murder trial on March 17, 2023. (Law&Crime Network)

A defense attorney for a Wisconsin father accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend’s new lover in May 2020 accused the prosecutor of coaching a witness while he was on the stand earlier this month.

Zachariah Anderson, 42, stands accused of murder for the presumed death of Rosalio Gutierrez Jr., 40. Prosecutors say the jealousy-fueled attack left blood spattered throughout the victim’s apartment – and left the location of his body a mystery.

The defendant’s murder trial began on the last day of February. The case is being overseen by Circuit Court for Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder, the longest-serving judge in the state and the same septuagenarian jurist who oversaw the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

On March 9, Marquan Washington, Anderson’s former cellmate, testified that the defendant confessed to killing Gutierrez.

One night, the witness testified, the defendant started shouting in his sleep: “Die! Die! Die!” Anderson, roused from his slumber, was then questioned about the outburst by Washington, the witness said. At that point, the defendant confessed and laid out how he planned the slaying, Washington told jurors in the Kenosha County Court.

During that portion of Washington’s direct testimony, Anderson himself reacted with a surprised-looking chuckle and then turned to his counsel to ask a question or lodge a comment about the claim.

But Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s response to the remarks caused a stir in court on Friday.

“We, the defense team, were contacted by a number of people and were sent clips of Marquan Washington’s direct testimony,” defense attorney John Birdsall said. “And, of course, I did not see this because I was up questioning him.”

Birdsall described the testimony regarding the “Die! Die! Die!” allegation and said that in the clips he was forwarded, the camera pans from Washington to Graveley. During that moment, the DA appears to be mouthing along with the witness.

“I have litigated for years and years and years and have no intention of jeopardizing my law license or my career,” the prosecutor said in response to the allegation.

The judge noted that he had not made an order regarding the clip in response to a question from the state. The defense replied that they issued a subpoena to receive the clip from Law&Crime and submitted it to the court. Schroeder eventually gave Birdsall the ability to question Washington about the clip.

Washington was quizzed about his testimony and how the state might have prepared him for it.

He said he did not have any memory of being coached. Then Birdsall played the clip in court for Washington to view.

“So, do you remember as you were speaking those words, Mr. Graveley mouthing them toward you?” the defense attorney asked.

The witness replied: “It seemed like, as I said it, he got to repeating it. It didn’t seem like he said it first or repeated it to me or something.”

Birdsall tried again.

“I’m asking if it looked like he was mouthing them towards you said them,” the attorney said.

“Right there, he–” Washington said, as he motioned toward a nearby laptop.

The defense interjected.

“No, I’m saying from your memory,” Birdsall clarified. “Not from what you just saw.”

Washington confirmed that he did not remember or recall Graveley mouthing the words to him as he testified last week.

Birdsall later elicited testimony from the witness that Washington understood the state might “go to bat” for him on his criminal case as a result of his testimony.

Under cross-examination, Graveley attempted to shoot down that line of argument. Washington confirmed that he and the prosecution never used any form of the phrase “go to bat” and that his charge is federal, a crime that a county prosecutor would have no influence over.

Watch the disputed testimony in full below:

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Defense attorney accuses DA of being caught coaching witness

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