Who is David Kahl? Man held for Brittany Zimmermann's 2008 murder to stand trial

David Kahl was accused of the murder of Brittany Zimmermann but has changed his stance quite a few times over the years

                            Who is David Kahl? Man held for Brittany Zimmermann's 2008 murder to stand trial
David Kahl has been asked to stand trial for murder of Brittany Zimmermann (Oshkosh Department of Corrections, YouTube/Matt Behrens)

OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN: A man accused of the 2008 murder of University of Wisconsin–Madison student Brittany Zimmermann was ordered to stand trial on Thursday, July 15, after a judge determined that prosecutors had presented enough evidence to prove reasonable cause that he was guilty.

Wisconsin has seen an upsurge in violent crime over the years. In January last, Jesus Medrano, a Wisconsin man hacked his father and stepmom to death when they caught him sexually abusing a child. In May 2014, two 12-year-old girls from Milwaukee, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser attempted to murder their friend Payton Leutner. 


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Zimmermann, a UW-Madison medical microbiology and immunology student, was beaten and stabbed to death on April 2, 2008, in the West Doty Street apartment she shared with her boyfriend, news outlets had revealed at the time.


Who is David Kahl?

David Kahl, 55, is a sex offender who has been doing time in prison for his sixth drunk driving violation. According to court papers, Kahl just completed an Earned Release Program (ERP) in prison, a drug addiction treatment program for nonviolent criminals aimed at minimizing the likelihood of future run-ins with the criminal justice system, Madison.com reported.

The warden of the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, where Kahl is presently locked up, told Circuit Judge William Hanrahan one week before Kahl was accused with Zimmermann's murder that Kahl had finished ERP and requested that Hanrahan sign an order permitting Kahl's release. Kahl would have been released from jail in November 2021 if it hadn't been for ERP. However, after completing ERP, Kahl's remaining jail term was added to the total. Prior to Thursday, Kahl had appeared in court by video from Oshkosh. In early 2020, police reported David Kahl's arrest in connection to Brittany Zimmermann's murder.

While the 20-page lawsuit lacks direct eyewitness proof of Kahl's participation in Zimmermann's killing, it does mention possible DNA matches found on some of Zimmermann's clothes. It also mentions DNA on the envelope of a letter from Fox Lake Correctional Institution, where Kahl was imprisoned at the time, addressed to authorities in April 2009, leading detectives toward a different Fox Lake inmate as a suspect. The DNA on the envelope belonged to Kahl. 

What happened to Brittany Zimmermann?

According to the complaint, Kahl, who lived about a mile from Zimmermann’s apartment, approached persons on Wilson Street, Bedford Street, and lastly Doty Street, asking for $40. According to police, he was in Zimmermann's apartment at the time of her murder, according to the timeline, WSAW reported. Zimmermann's door lock was allegedly broken, according to the lawsuit. According to the report, the student was beaten, stabbed many times, and strangled. Analysts earlier linked Kahl's DNA to evidence found on Zimmermann's clothing in 2018.

The 55-year-old has often changed his stance on the incidents that happened on that day in April. Kahl acknowledged that he went door to door trying to con people of money by telling them he needed money to fix a tire on his automobile. The funds were utilized to purchase crack cocaine, a recent report by Madison.com reported. Kahl's attorney Jon Helland said there was “scant evidence to support the charge in the criminal complaint.”

Neighbors said that Kahl was still around the neighborhood trying to leech money off people even after the murder, despite police presence. No one says blood or injures on him. “His behavior was consistent before Brittany Zimmermann died and after Brittany Zimmermann died,” Helland said. However, when police first interviewed Kahl on the day of Zimmermann's death, an officer said he noticed small cuts on the palm of Kahl's hands, according to Post Crescent. A few days later, police say Kahl told them he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia a few years prior and was off his medications. Helland maintained that the evidence in the case was circumstantial.

Zimmermann's brother, Matthew, said in 2020 that the family has been devastated by her death, and begged for no bail to be given. “I do not believe Mr Kahl should get bond on this day due to the fact that he is at the end of his ropes, you could say in his life what does he have to lose?” Matthew Zimmermann said. “What is stopping him from going out and feeling the fresh air and sunshine on his face and victimizing someone else, doing something like he did to my sister.”

However, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas has ruled that there is enough evidence to continue the case against Kahl. Kahl, who is now incarcerated for other crimes, faces a potential term of life in prison if convicted.