Judge Elliot Levine ruled Friday in La Crosse County Circuit Court in favor of a motion to suppress statements Erik Sackett made while in police custody and denied another motion to suppress cell phone searches of his phone in 2018.

Erik Sackett, 38, of La Crosse was charged Aug. 9, 2018, with first-degree intentional homicide after police discovered the body of Erin Somvilai, a 35-year-old La Crosse mother of two, in a Vernon County lake.

Levine granted a motion submitted by Sackett’s defense on March 11 to suppress statements Sackett made to police on June 17 and August 8 of last year.


Erik Sackett makes his preliminary hearing appearance in La Crosse County Circuit Court Wednesday. Sackett is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the June 3 death of his former girlfriend, Erin Somvilai, whose body was found June 17 in a Vernon County lake.

In the motion, Sackett’s lawyer, Christopher M. Zachar, said Sackett was “subject to custodial interrogation and that investigators did not advise him of his Fifth Amendment right prior to questioning” despite Sackett “repeatedly [invoking] his Fifth Amendment rights to silence and counsel.”

During the June 17 interrogation, body camera audio captured investigators saying Sackett was a suspect in Somvilai’s murder before Sackett came into the room to be questioned, and thereafter did not read his Miranda warning when entering the room before questioning, according to public records.

Levine denied another motion, also submitted March 11, to exclude cellphone searches of Sackett’s phone made at the request of law enforcement on June 6.

Police were investigating Somvilai as a missing person when they approached Sackett at his La Crosse home June 6 to ask him about her whereabouts, according to public records.

Zachar argued police violated Sackett’s curtilage — the area around a person’s home — because they approached him at his residence, leaving him with nowhere else to go.

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Sackett “invoked his right to remain silent and that right was ignored” when he told police he didn’t want to speak to them because their body cameras were on, Zachar said.

“Oh, OK. We’re done then,” Sackett said when police confirmed they were recording him.

Body camera footage doesn’t support the motion to suppress, said Levine. The footage doesn’t show Sackett trying to invoke his Fifth Amendment right but shows him expressing “a desire not to be recorded.”

Sackett will appear in court July 24 for a motion to exclude evidence from K9 searches because “dogs are incapable of distinguishing between the scent of blood from live and deceased human beings,” according to public record.

Sackett’s trial is set to begin Oct. 21.

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(2) comments


Anybody who watches police procedurals on television knows enough to do a better job than those cops. SMDH


Cops do this a lot. I know someone who was in an accident and she doesn't know if she was read her rights either. She was out cold and supposedly they read her rights in ER. The nurses heard it. I don't care who heard it, if the patient couldn't hear it then it shouldn't count. Same with any blood draw...if the person can't consent to it, then it shouldn't count either.

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