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WATCH: Kuehni testifies in homicide case

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Rose Marie Kuehni tears up Monday while testifying in a case where prosecutors charged her with homicide. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Mike Longaecker)2 / 4
Rose Marie Kuehni describes the night she shot Douglas Bailey at their Prescott home in November 2012. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Mike Longaecker)3 / 4
Rose Marie Kuehni reads from a letter she sent her sister that describes the alleged abuse she received from the man she later shot to death in November 2015. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Mike Longaecker)4 / 4

ELLSWORTH -- Rose Marie Kuehni testified Monday that she shot her boyfriend to death last year with a shotgun she kept loaded in her bedroom closet.

The Prescott resident described to a Pierce County jury how she had been the victim of domestic violence for years at the hands of her boyfriend Douglas Bailey and was fearful his menacing behavior on Nov. 22, 2015, would be the end of her.

“He was going to kill me,” she said. “He was going to rape and kill me.”

Kuehni, 45, opted to testify in her own trial, which began last week and runs through at least Wednesday when attorneys are slated to present closing arguments. Kuehni is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.

A jury of nine men and four women spent all day Monday hearing from Kuehni -- as well as an audio recording she made last year depicting a rant by Bailey, the 51-year-old with whom she held a commitment ceremony in 2012.

During testimony Monday, Kuehni outlined many of the same details she provided in a Dec. 7, 2015, jailhouse interview, where she first admitted to shooting Bailey. She testified that Bailey had resigned himself to death in a year, but would spend his remaining time getting revenge on others.

“He said, ‘I’m going to start and finish with you,’” Kuehni said, telling the jury Bailey’s personality made a dramatic change that night and he paced around her “like a hunter stalking prey.”

Defense attorney Mark Gherty asked Kuehni why she didn’t just leave.

“I wasn’t allowed to leave,” she replied.

Asked why she didn’t call the police, Kuehni said Bailey had told her in the past that he was a former Army Ranger who had been given immunity by the government.

Kuehni said she made her way up the staircase, listening to a ranting Bailey talking about what he was going to do with her in the bedroom, later saying, “I will kill you.”

She said she entered a changing room in the upstairs bedroom, slipped off her clothes and put her hand on her robe when she changed her mind.

“All I could think of was, ‘No, I don’t want him to rape me,’” she testified.

With her loaded 20-gauge pump shotgun in hand, Kuehni entered the bedroom, where she said Bailey told her, “Get on your knees, bitch.”

He raised his hands above his head, she said, and “the gun went off.” She said she didn’t feel any recoil and saw that Bailey was advancing toward her.

“I fired the gun again,” she said.

Kuehni said she found Bailey’s handgun inside the closet after the shooting.

Asked by Gherty why she didn’t call police after he was dead, she said she didn’t want her 11-year-old son to know about the killing. Kuehni also said she was given pause by years of threats from Bailey that his friends would avenge any harm to him by killing her family and friends.

“I don’t think I was thinking very clear,” she said.

Domestic abuse

The shooting, Kuehni testified, was the culmination of years of abuse she chronicled during testimony Monday.

A portion of the alleged emotional abuse Bailey administered was documented in a secret recording Kuehni made on Oct. 10, 2015.

In the 54-minute recording that was played for the jury, Bailey can be heard berating Kuehni for telling friends about their relationship problems -- a breach in loyalty, he tells her in the recording.

“Family business is family business,” Bailey said. “You’re gonna learn.”

Bailey threatens to harm a man who came to their house to confront him after his girlfriend passed along information about the relationship problems, but he saved his ire for Kuehni, telling her she’s never had to face consequences in life.

“You don’t think I’ve gone through pain?” Kuehni tells him.

“No, not yet,” Bailey responds. “You don’t know what pain is.”

The most lingering incident Kuehni recalled was what she described as “three weeks of terror” in the summer of 2012 after Bailey tried giving up drinking. During that episode, he lashed out at her -- falsely believing she had cheated on him, Kuehni said -- with beatings and rapes. She said she spent those weeks using heavy makeup to conceal facial bruises, among other injuries, which she said didn’t stop until one volatile night.

Kuehni said Bailey had put a few rounds into a revolver, pressed it to her head and squeezed the trigger three times. The gun never went off, but the incident, Kuehni said, prompted her then- 7-year-old son to intervene and plead for her life.

Bailey turned from physical violence to psychological abuse at that point, Kuehni said. She testified that Bailey kept a hit list out on her family and made regular mention about how he had killed people during his time in the military and had served time in prison after allegedly avenging his brother’s murder.

In January 2014, Kuehni recorded a video of herself because “I was afraid that there would come a day when he was going to kill me.”

Kuehni also offered her explanation for references in emails she sent in 2015 to Clarence Hicks -- the man accused of dumping a box containing Bailey’s body off a mountain in Kentucky -- that had been brought forward by prosecution. A mention of “opportunity,” she said was only in reference to talking to Bailey about getting alcohol treatment. The phrase “don’t know where I would put it,” she said, was in reference to a fly fishing pole.

She admitted the letter makes reference to thinking of ways to end Bailey’s life, but said she had long since resigned herself “that God would take care of it for me.”

Cross examination

Pierce County Assistant District Attorney reminded Kuehni that a medical examiner had testified last week that Bailey was found with an entry wound to his back -- a claim she flatly rejected when asked if the second shot struck Bailey there.

“Absolutely not,” Kuehni replied.

Thorie later asked Kuehni why there were three spent shell casings found in a second box she gave to Hicks containing Bailey’s belongings.

She said she didn’t know where the third casing came from, but denied Thorie’s suggestion that it was from a test fire.

Thorie also noted that Kuehni bought paint on Dec. 2, 2015, and painted the room where the shooting occurred several days after Bailey had been killed and driven to Illinois, where Hicks took the box Kuehni placed him in.

“I kept having nightmares about blood coming out of the ceiling and couldn’t take it,” Kuehni said of the new paint job.

Kuehni also denied remembering sending numerous fake messages from Bailey’s phone to his family members after she shot him. She did, however, admit to creating a phony text-message exchange from her phone and Bailey’s after he died. She rejected Thorie’s notion that she did so to throw people off her trail.

“I didn’t want him to be gone,” Kuehni said.

Testimony resumed Tuesday, with a doctor set to weigh in on battered women’s syndrome.

Presiding Judge James Duvall prepared the jury to receive the case on Wednesday.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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