MENOMONIE, Wis. — Jason Mengel was visibly nervous as he approached the witness stand, mistakenly raising his left hand when asked to raise his right to give an oath to tell the truth.
The 35-year-old then spent all afternoon answering questions about his past relationship with the 22-year-old defendant, and what he knew about her sex life with two other men in their friend group, including the man McCandless is charged with killing, Alex Woodworth.
In opening statements, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf told the jury that McCandless' motive to stab Woodworth 16 times and kill him was "an attempt to recaputure the relationship she wanted with Jason Mengel."
Mengel said he met McCandless at Eau Claire, Wisc., coffee shop Racy D'Lenes Coffee Lounge , where they would go nearly every day. Mengel testified that they started dating, and soon moved in together and started a sexual relationship.
At a certain point in their relationship, Mengel testified that McCandless told him she was raped by one of his best friends. Mengel went to Eau Claire Police, who investigated but did not charge the man.
And Mengel testified that he learned McCandless was having a sexual relationship with Woodworth. Eventually, McCandless moved out of Mengel's home and their relationship ended.
Mengel said he considered Woodworth a friend, and helped him on separate occasions that Woodworth tried harming himself.
Mengel testified that even after breaking up, he continued talking with McCandless, who told him details of Woodworth being aggressive and choking her during sex.
Defense attorney Aaron Nelson in opening statements told the jury that on March 22, 2018, Woodworth aggressively forced himself on McCandless with a knife and began cutting her clothing, and then McCandless grabbed the knife away and stabbed him with it.
The day ended with Megel still on the witness stand, and the defense will begin cross-examination Thursday morning.