Jurors Watch Wittenberg’s Original Police Interview As Manslaughter Trial Continues
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Jurors at the Minnehaha County Courthouse watched two-and-a half hour condensed tape in court for the first time on Wednesday that revealed details about a fatal love triangle. Alex Wittenberg, a then 23-year-old, is facing manslaughter charges in the death of his girlfriend’s estranged husband. His lawyers are claiming self defense. You can read more about the case and yesterday’s court happenings here.
When jurors watched the taped interview with police from November 2016, they learned that Wittenberg was a car shop worker by day and Pizza Ranch employee by night. Wittenberg said he moved from Tennessee to Dell Rapids in January 2016 looking for new job opportunities based on the advice of his sister. She lived in the area with her husband and children. He moved to Dell Rapids and lived with his nephew. Two months later, in March, he met Jamie Puttmann. The two started dating and moved in together in May 2016.
Wittenberg told the detective that he originally broke up with Jamie in October 2016, but they were working on their relationship after she shared that she was pregnant with Wittenberg’s baby.
Wittenberg said that the youngest of Jon and Jamie Puttmann’s children, Harrison, said that his father, Jon, wanted to physically harm Wittenberg. On tape, Wittenberg said of Jon, “he doesn’t like me because he thinks I took her away from him.”
The day of the shooting was also the day of Jamie Puttmann’s grandfather’s funeral. When describing the errands and events of the day before the evening shooting, Wittenberg revealed on tape something about his past, saying, “I’m not good at funerals just for the simple fact I watched both of my parents get killed.”
Then, Wittenberg described the custody swap that escalated to a fatal altercation. Wittenberg and Jamie were driving Jamie and Jon’s two children to Jon’s home. Upon arrival, witnesses say the two men began fighting when Jon started punching Wittenberg. Wittenberg said he told Jon, “Please, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to shoot you.”
Later on in the tape, when the detective informed Wittenberg that Jon had died from the gunshot wound, Wittenberg is seen breaking down in tears, holding a tissue to his face.
When the detective asked the tearful Wittenberg if he would change anything or go back and do anything differently now that he knew that Jon had died, Wittenberg said, “I wouldn’t even be there.”
Wittenberg’s trial resumes on Thursday in downtown Sioux Falls.