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Jilted Beauty Queen Killed Rival Over Dairy Farmer, Jurors Told
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Jilted Beauty Queen Killed Rival Over Dairy Farmer, Jurors Told

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WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - A young beauty queen charged with strangling

a woman in a jealous rage plotted the killing because she was obsessed

by her love for a dairy farmer, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

In opening arguments, District Attorney Greg Grau said he'll prove

Lori Esker planned a "mission of secrecy" when she left her college

campus to confront a former classmate who she thought had stolen her

boyfriend.

Ms. Esker, a 20-year-old student at University of Wisconsin-River

Falls, is on trial on a murder charge in the death of Lisa Cihaski. If

convicted, she faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Grau contends that Ms. Esker strangled Ms. Cihaski with

a belt on Sept. 20 in a motel parking lot near Wausau. Ms.

Esker, who was named Marathon County Dairy Princess in June

1989, resigned her title after she was charged in October.

Grau said the plot was based on Ms. Esker's love for 25-year-old

Bill Buss, an Eland dairy farmer. The two dated for about

a year before Buss ended the relationship last summer, Grau said.

Buss then began dating Ms. Cihaski, 21, of Birnamwood, and

friends said the couple were soon to become engaged.

Grau said he would prove Ms. Esker "had a near obsession

with trying to get Bill Buss back," including making repeated

sexual advances, in the months before Ms. Cihaski was slain.

"He (Buss) is going to tell you he resisted those advances

despite her persistence," the prosecutor said. "... The

evidence will show that on Sept. 20 Lori Esker left River

Falls, Wis., on a mission of secrecy." Jurors were selected

from Forest County, about 100 miles from Wasau, because

of pretrial publicity.

According to court records, Ms. Esker told investigators

she grabbed a belt and strangled Ms. Cihaski as the two

argued in a car about Buss. She said she was acting in self-defense.

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