A Hayward woman pleaded no contest Tuesday, Sept. 21, to a charge of second-degree reckless homicide in the death of her husband at their home Nov. 5, 2020.
Mari Patricia Isham, 33, 15503 Davis Avenue, Apt. C, Hayward, appeared in Sawyer County Circuit Court Tuesday before Judge John Yackel with her attorney, James C. McKenzie. The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney Bruce Poquette.
Isham’s bond was set at $25,000 cash and she is being held in custody pending her sentencing on Nov. 24.
According to the criminal complaint, at 12:56 a.m. Nov. 5, 2020, Hayward police responded to a 911 call at the Davis Avenue apartment occupied by Isham and her husband, 47-year-old Justin W. Coles. The caller, Mari Isham, stated stated that Coles would not wake up and it was unknown if he was breathing.
Sawyer County sheriff’s deputies and a Sawyer County ambulance also responded to the scene. First aid was administered to Coles and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Isham told an officer that on the evening of Nov. 4, she and Coles had a verbal argument. She said they both went to bed, as she was not feeling well. When she woke up, she noticed that Coles was on the floor and not breathing.
Initially, officers believed the cause of death may have been an accidental drug overdose. But they observed that Coles had some unusual injuries to his face, neck, abdomen and the right side of his chest.
Police Chief Joel Clapero said evidence of injuries raised concern of a possible assault. An autopsy was requested and completed on Coles by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office in Ramey, Minnesota. Upon completion of the autopsy, the physician who conducted the autopsy stated that the cause of death was “blunt force injuries and strangulation and the manner of death was homicide.”
City police requested assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin Crime lab, Wisconsin State Patrol and Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department to assist in the death investigation.
At the time of the Nov. 5 incident, Mari Isham was on probation, with a condition that she have no contact with Justin Coles. She told an officer that she and Coles had arguments since they returned to Hayward about a year earlier. She remembered they had a physical fight after their home on the Chippewa Flowage burned down the previous year.
Police arrested Isham on Nov. 5, 2020, and she was jailed on a probation hold.