Guilty verdict in 2009 Sawyer County 'thrill kill'

HAYWARD, Wis. -- A Sawyer County jury on Friday found 30-year-old Christopher Roalson guilty in the murder of 93-year-old Irena Roszak, a case that officials called a "thrill kill" with satanic overtones.

Christopher L. Roalson
Christopher L. Roalson was found guilty Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, of first-degree murder in the death of 93-year-old Irena Roszak. He was sentenced Monday, March 4, 2013, to life in prison with no chance of parole. (2010 file / Sawyer County Sheriff's Department)

HAYWARD, Wis. -- A Sawyer County jury on Friday found 30-year-old Christopher Roalson guilty in the murder of 93-year-old Irena Roszak, a case that officials called a "thrill kill" with satanic overtones.

Roalson was convicted of two felonies -- first-degree intentional homicide and burglary with a deadly weapon.

The decision came after a five-day trial in Sawyer County.

Authorities called it a thrill kill in 2009 after Irena Roszak was found stabbed to death in her Raddison home.

District Attorney Bruce Poquette began his closing arguments in court Friday the same way he began his opening statement: "I stabbed her, I stabbed her, I stabbed her."


It's the same phrase Jackie Walczak, a friend of Roalson's, testified he spoke as he confessed to the killing to her the day the murder took place.

Prosecutors allege Roalson shouted satanic references as he stabbed Roszak and as she begged for her life.

Poquette's closing argument stressed the fact that Walczak and Roalson's accomplice, Austin Davis, told authorities similar stories, both pinning the murder on Roalson.

In October 2010, Davis pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional homicide, one of three felony charges he faced for his role in the killing. Three months earlier, Davis' attorney entered a "not guilty plea by reason of mental insanity." Fred Bourg argued Davis had been brainwashed by the alleged mastermind of the crime, Roalson.

According to Roalson's preliminary hearing in Sawyer County Circuit Court in April 2010, Davis told investigators he accompanied Roalson to Roszak's house. He initially thought they were going to a "dude's house." He said Roalson went to the woman's house with the intention of killing someone. Davis said his sole intention was to be "a lookout" and take things of value from the home. All he took, he said, was a smoking pipe. They had smoked marijuana earlier in the day, Davis said.

Davis said Roalson told him he stabbed the woman at least 10 times. He saw him grab a wooden chair and heard him break it over the woman as she screamed for her life.

"He was saying things like if God was actually here today she would be saved, or something like that," Davis told investigators on the audio tape. "He was saying like the devil is his God. And the devil is Satan's son or something like that. I thought it was weird," he added, and laughed.

Meanwhile, a different picture was painted during defense attorney Donna Kuchler's closing argument.


Kuchler stance throughout the trial was that Davis and Roalson had intentions only to burglarize Roszak.

She argued unsuccessfully that it was Davis that went out of control during the burglary and killed her.

Kuchler said that Davis had motivation to testify against Roalson because he already was serving jail time and probably would receive a plea deal for a reduced sentence.

Poquette said in the years leading up to the trial, he was confident the facts stacked up against Roalson would speak for themselves.

"The facts are the same since 2009 with one difference, one slight difference," Poquette said. "That is that everyone knows them now, we know the story."

According to Poquette, Davis and Roalson dressed in black and broke into Roszak's home with two knives, stabbed her 18 times, delivering the fatal blow to her heart.

A sentencing date has not been set.

The News Tribune contributed to this report.

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