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Attorneys give last pitch as Ponce-Rocha murder trial nears end


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Prosecutors asked jurors Thursday to return a guilty verdict against a Wausau man accused of killing a high school senior in 2009.

Marathon County district attorney Ken Heimerman used his more than 90-minute closing argument to ask the out-of-county jury to bring justice for the victim Breanna Schneller and her family.

Heimerman described Raul Ponce-Rocha's version of events as “a bunch of lies.”

“He lied to the cops from day one. He sat here and lied to you,” Heimerman said.

Heimerman said Ponce-Rocha planted the seed for the murder when he went to pick up a co-worker from Schneller's apartment complex on his way to work the morning of the murder. The seed bloomed into a full-fledged plan when Ponce-Rocha returned to pick up another co-worker, Heimerman said.

Heimerman said Schneller was enjoying a lazy Saturday morning in bed, something he said most hard-working people like her only dream of.

Ponce-Rocha entered Schneller's apartment with the intent to steal her underwear and killed Schneller after she caught him, Heimerman said. The attack began when Ponce-Rocha beat Schneller with an iron and ended when he decided to kill her by stabbing her to death with two kitchen knives. Heimerman said the stabbing was worse than butchering an animal.

Heimerman recounted the evidence against Ponce-Rocha as he delivered his last pitch, including Ponce-Rocha's DNA found under Schneller's fingernail, on the iron handle used to beat her, on a striped glove he wore during the crime and on the plastic bag with the glove that police found in a Dumpster outside the Mexican restaurant where he worked.

“Every thing that would link him to that murder, he lies about,” Heimerman said.

The defense was scheduled to deliver its closing argument after a lunch break.

Ponce-Rocha faces life in prison if he's convicted of Schneller's death.