Poconos Coal

Prosecutors appeal after judge blocks evidence in Monroe homicide trial

STROUDSBURG, Pa. - Prosecutors are appealing a judge's decision in the case of a Monroe County man accused of murder.

James Bidwell is charged with criminal homicide in the 2011 death of Kristen Wagner.

A judge ruled Friday that prosecutors cannot present some evidence during the trial scheduled to start in January. The ruling includes evidence of Bidwell's drug use and prior violent assaults towards women with whom he was in a relationship.

The Monroe County District Attorney is appealing the ruling, citing previous cases where evidence of prior domestic and sexual violence was tied to a domestic violence homicide.

Prosecutors allege witnesses saw Wagner being choked by Bidwell several months before her death. The DA's office says Bidwell previously attacked women, choking them, and the violence was often fueled by his drug use.

Defense attorneys said introducing the evidence would give Bidwell an unfair trial.

Originally Wagner's death was ruled a suicide in 2011. Wagner was found in a refrigeration trailer with an electrical wire around her neck at a scrap yard owned by Bidwell in Stroud Township.

Bidwell was charged with homicide and tampering with evidence in 2016 after a grand jury investigation into Wagner's death.

Investigators say Bidwell strangled Wagner and put her body in the trailer to make it look like she committed suicide.

Bidwell's trial was scheduled to begin in January 2018.

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