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Daniel Bolstad

Other Wisconsin Cases with Perjury or False Accusation
On June 20, 2006, after a night of drinking in La Crosse, Wisconsin, 27-year-old Michelle Sivanich reported to police that when she woke up in her bed, 37-year-old Daniel Bolstad was attempting to sexually assault her.

Bolstad was charged with second-degree attempted sexual assault and went to trial in La Crosse County Circuit Court in October 2007.

The trial lasted one day and the prosecution’s case relied upon the testimony of Sivanich, her sister Christina Lorenz, and Jason Conry.

Conry told police that he was at Sivanich’s home with Bolstad on the evening of the incident, and when Sivanich said she felt dizzy and sick to her stomach, he helped her to bed. Conry said he and Bolstad went outside to smoke a cigarette, but Bolstad returned inside first and locked him out. Conry said he began pounding on the door to get in and then went to a kitchen window, looked in and saw Bolstad emerging from Sivanich’s bedroom.

Christina Lorenz, Sivanich’s sister, told police that she lived across the street and woke to hear Conry’s yelling. She said when she came to the house, she and Conry managed to gain entry and found Sivanich accusing Bolstad of attempting to rape her.

Sivanich testified that after three drinks she began feeling dizzy. Conry, who was a long-time friend, helped her to her bedroom. She said she woke up as Bolstad was trying to have sex with her. She recognized Bolstad by his dark hair and a tattoo on his arm.

Bolstad testified in his own defense. He denied assaulting Sivanich and said that Conry was never locked out of the house. He also testified that Lorenz was inside the house the entire evening. Bolstad said that Todd Mitchell, who was Lorenz’s husband, and another man, Arnold LeFebre, also were present when Sivanich falsely accused him. Bolstad told the jury that he became angry when he was accused and that he threatened to call the police, but did not because he had an unpaid fine and because he didn’t want to cause trouble for Mitchell, who was under a restraining order that prohibited contact with Lorenz.

No forensic or physical evidence was presented. In closing argument, the prosecution said Bolstad’s testimony was false. “(Y)ou can tell that he’s lying because there’s no logic to his story and there’s no consistency to his story and there is no corroboration to his story,” the prosecutor declared.

On November 2, 2007, the jury convicted Bolstad of second-degree attempted sexual assault. Prior to sentencing, Bolstad requested a new trial because Mitchell had come forward to say that he was actually present on the night of the incident. The motion was denied without hearing testimony from Mitchell, and Bolstad was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Bolstad’s appellate attorney filed a motion for a new trial alleging that Bolstad’s trial lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to call witnesses who could have testified that Mitchell was present on the night of the crime, and by failing to call witnesses who could have testified that Sivanich and Lorenz had a reputation for untruthfulness. That motion was denied because the appellate attorney failed to present any testimony from the witnesses in question.

In 2010, after his conviction was upheld by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Bolstad filed a motion on his own without an attorney seeking a new trial based on information that Conry pled guilty in Minnesota to sexually assaulting his stepsister after spiking her drink with liquid Ecstasy. The motion also contained a sworn affidavit from Mitchell saying he was present on the night of the crime. That motion was denied and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in 2012.

Bolstad then enlisted the support of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which conducted interviews with Sivanich (the victim), Mitchell and Lorenz. Sivanich and Lorenz admitted that they had testified falsely—that in fact Sivanich, Lorenz and Conry were in the house and that Mitchell was there—which Mitchell again confirmed.

Sivanich also revealed that Conry had drugged and sexually assaulted her on other occasions. Lorenz also said that on the night of the incident, Sivanich seemed unsure of who had attempted to sexually assault her.

In 2013, the Wisconsin Innocence Project filed a post-conviction motion for a new trial based on the newly discovered evidence and in the interest of justice. Police then conducted their own investigation and interviewed all three witnesses. All three admitted to police that they lied about who was present the night of the assault, although Sivanich still said that Bolstad was the one who assaulted her that night. Lorenz told police—in contradiction to what she told the Wisconsin Innocence Project—that Sivanich was not confused about who attempted to assault her.

The motion was denied without a hearing. The trial court ruled that recantations did not undermine Sivanich’s identification of Bolstad.

On July 17, 2014, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed that decision and ordered a new trial in the interest of justice. The appeals court said that the prosecution’s reliance on the false testimony of the three witnesses “so clouded the crucial issue of credibility as to prevent the real controversy from being fully tried.”

Bolstad was released on bond on September 8, 2014 pending a new trial. On February 12, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the sexual assault charge and Bolstad pled guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct relating to his angry behavior after he was accused of attempting to assault Sivanich. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which he had already served many times over.
 
-Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/13/2015
State:Wisconsin
County:La Crosse
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2006
Convicted:2007
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:20 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:37
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No