MARINETTE COUNTY (NBC 26) — DNA evidence will play a key role in arguments as a decades-old double homicide trial begins.
Raymond Vannieuwenhoven, 84, is accused of shooting and killing a Green Bay couple at a Wisconsin park 45 years ago. The trial started Monday at the Marinette County Court House with jury selection and opening arguments.
Prosecutors had previously said they used DNA and genetic genealogy to connect Vannieuwenhoven to the killings of a David Schuldes, 25, and his fiance, Ellen Matheys, 24.
The couple was killed during a camping trip in 1976 at McClintock Park in Silver Cliff. Reports show Schuldes was shot in the neck and died instantly. Matheys was sexually assaulted and shot twice in the chest.
DNA from the sexual assault was gathered and submitted to a database. That evidence was matched to Vannieuwenhoven in 2018 through genetic genealogy.
Vannieuwenhoven is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The sexual assault charge was dismissed, because the statute of limitations expired.
Mark Williams, special prosecutor, said the DNA evidence still remains a large part of the case.
"The evidence is going to show that they didn't have a chance. They were gunned down. This wasn't a case of self defense. They were gunned down and that's what the evidence is going to show," Williams said.
Lee Schuchart, defense attorney, argued the DNA evidence doesn't mean Vannieuwenhoven is responsible for killing the couple
"There's so much highlighted on the DNA in this case to a pair of shorts - very little has been focused on the shooting, or the gun, or things of that nature," Lee said.
The jury is comprised of nine women and five men, including two alternates.
Vannieuwenhoven plead not guilty to the murders in July 2019.
The trial will continue Tuesday morning with testimony and evidence presented. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.