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Thread: Jeffrey Alan Weisheit - Indiana Death Row

  1. #1
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    Jeffrey Alan Weisheit - Indiana Death Row

    Caleb and Alyssa Lynch

    Jeffrey Alan Weisheit

    Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty In Deadly Fire

    EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a southwestern Indiana man facing murder charges for allegedly setting a fire that killed his fiancee's two children.

    The Evansville Courier and Press reports that Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco added a death penalty charge Monday to Jeffrey Weisheit's file.

    Weisheit was arrested in Covington, Ky., the day of the April 10 blaze. Court documents say Weisheit told police that he set the Evansville house on fire knowing that 8-year-old Alyssa Lynch and 5-year-old Caleb Lynch were inside.

    Weisheit shared the home with the children's mother, who was working at the time of the fire.

    Weisheit has pleaded not guilty and continues to be held without bond. A message seeking comment from his attorney, Kurt Schnepper, was not immediately returned Monday.


  2. #2
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    Funds set aside for Weisheit's murder defense bill

    Death penalty trials cost money, and on Wednesday the Vanderburgh County Council approved $250,000 to partially fund the public defender-led defense of Jeffrey Weisheit.

    Weisheit, 34, is charged with murder and arson in connection with an April 10 fire that killed Alyssa Lynch, 8, and Caleb Lynch, 5, at his home at 10040 Fischer Road in northern Vanderburgh County. In April, Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco filed paperwork to seek the death penalty.

    Having been declared indigent, Weisheit will be defended by the Vanderburgh County Public Defender's Office during a trial set to begin April 4.

    Half of the county's costs in capital cases are paid by the Indiana Public Defender Commission.

    Chief Public Defender Steve Owens, who sought the appropriation Wednesday, said the cost of Weisheit's defense could fall between $700,000 and $800,000.

    Owens said the money will pay for mitigation and investigators, paralegals, attorneys and experts.

    "We will be back (for more money), unless something miraculous happens," Owens said.

    Paula Sites, assistant executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, put the average defense cost for a death penalty case in Indiana at $375,000 in 2007. She said that accounts for expenses through trial.

    Levco, who started a committee of prosecutors to examine rising capital case trial costs, says it is difficult to compare or average trial costs because each case is different.

    "Public defenders do things a private attorney wouldn't because cost is not an issue," Levco said. "I'm not criticizing public defenders. I think they're doing it just to cover every base to a fault."

    Tom Shetler Jr., the County Council's finance chairman, said the county's half of the Weisheit trial costs will be felt by taxpayers.


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    Weisheit defense team wins access to any CPS records

    Vanderburgh Circuit Judge Carl Heldt ruled on Thursday that Child Protective Services should release any records requested by the defense team of Jeffrey Weisheit.

    Weisheit, 34, is charged with murder and arson in connection with an April 10 fire that killed Alyssa Lynch, 8, and Caleb Lynch, 5, at his home at 10040 Fischer Road in northern Vanderburgh County.

    They were the children of his fiancee, Lisa Lynch, who shared the home with Weisheit. She was at work at the time of the fire.

    The murder charges carry a possible term of 45 to 65 years in prison upon conviction, and the arson charge, a class A felony, a term of 20 to 50 years in prison. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco has filed the paperwork to seek the death penalty.

    During a short hearing Thursday, Weisheit's attorney, Tim Dodd, said that he requested records from Child Protective Services as part of a group of subpoenas sent out to see what information would be relevant to the capital murder case.

    "A capital case is little different that any other case," he told Heldt. "During the mitigation phase he seems entitled to anything helpful. Is it a fishing expedition ... yes."

    Mary Jane Humphrey, an attorney for Child Protective Services, said the agency will follow the court order, but she said it can't release anything without one. She said the agency didn't have any previous ties with the family before the children's death, but the agency would have any reports of abuse, allegations or inquiries available if they did.

    Heldt ruled that CPS hand over any records to Dodd and Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco; those documents may be viewed by those in the two offices. If anything is found to be pertinent to the case, he said, a hearing must be held before it can become part of the public record.


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    Change of venue request in Weisheit murder trial

    Defense attorneys for the man accused of setting a house fire that killed two children have asked to move his trial out of Vanderburgh County.

    Jeffrey Weisheit is accused of setting a house fire on Fischer Road in April that killed his fiancee's children, 8-year-old Alyssa and 5-year-old Caleb Lynch.

    He was arrested near Cincinnati the following day.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    Weisheit's attorney says he's seeking to have the trial moved because of extensive pre-trial publicity. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco says he will not contest the change of venue request.


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    Evansville death penalty case moved to Clark County

    April trial set for man accused of murdering children in house fire

    A death penalty case for an Evansville man accused of killing two children in a house fire will be heard in Clark County Circuit Court.

    Jeffrey Alan Weisheit, 34, was charged in April in Vanderburgh County with class A felony arson and two counts of murder. Prosecutor Stanley Levco filed paperwork seeking the death penalty a couple of weeks later.

    According to a probable-cause affidavit, local firefighters responded to 10040 Fischer Road in Evansville at about 4:45 a.m. April 10 after a neighbor called 911 to report a house fire. First responders found the home engulfed in flames.

    A neighbor told police that Weisheit lived in the house with his girlfriend, Lisa Lynch, and her two children, 8-year-old Alyssa and 5-year-old Caleb Lynch. Lisa arrived home and said Weisheit was supposed to be at the house watching her children.

    Weisheit and his vehicle were missing, and police began tracking the vehicle using OnStar. Police caught up to him in Boone County, Ky., and Weisheit allegedly began driving at a high rate of speed. According to court records, he eventually jumped out of the vehicle while it was moving and charged at an officer with a knife screaming “shoot me.”

    The bodies of the two children were found in the house. Officials found burned flares and evidence at least one child was bound with duct tape, court records state.

    During questioning by police, Weisheit was asked if he did something to the kids and he reportedly said, “I don’t remember.” When asked how he set the fire, he also said he did not remember. He then reportedly admitted he set the fire before stopping and saying he wanted a lawyer.

    The case was moved to Clark County earlier this month after Weisheit’s attorneys requested a change of venue, citing heavy media coverage and comments written on blogs about what should be done to Weisheit.

    Circuit Court Judge Dan Moore scheduled the trial for April 9. Clark County residents will make up the jury pool.

    Previous death penalty cases in Clark County

    The last death penalty case heard in Clark County was Daniel Ray Wilkes in 2007, also transferred from Vanderburgh County. He was found guilty of three counts of murder for beating to death his girlfriend and her two young daughters. He is on death row.

    The Clark County Prosecutor’s Office has filed five murder cases seeking a death sentence since 1977, according to its website. The most recent was Zachariah Melcher in 2005 for murdering his pregnant wife and son.

    He pleaded guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to life in prison. He allegedly killed another prison inmate in 2008 and is currently awaiting a death penalty trial in Vigo County. A hearing on a motion by his attorney to dismiss that case will be held Nov. 12.


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    Murder suspect denied psychologist

    A Clark County judge has declined to approve hiring a psychologist as part of the defense team for the murder trial of Vanderburgh County resident Jeffrey Weisheit. Weisheit, 34, is charged with murder and arson in the April 10 deaths of Alyssa Lynch, 8, and Caleb Lynch, 5.

    Weisheit's trial, scheduled to begin April 27, was moved to Clark County after defense attorney Timothy Dodd, a public defender, argued pretrial publicity in the Evansville area would make it difficult for Weisheit to obtain a fair trial.

    Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco has filed the paperwork to seek the death penalty if Weisheit is convicted. At a hearing before Clark Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moore on Thursday, Levco objected to the defense's request for a psychologist on several grounds.

    "What they asked for would essentially give them a blank check," he said. "I also objected because the defense still hasn't decided whether or not to file an insanity defense."

    However, Moore did stipulate that Weisheit's defense could hire a psychologist to work on the case through Nov. 30, Levco said. He also set a Dec. 10 date for the defense to file an insanity plea if they decide to do so.

    Levco said he objected because he is opposed to court rules that lead to exorbitant defense costs in death penalty cases.

    "I feel very strongly about defense death penalty costs," he said.

    Levco said he is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion during a Criminal Justice Summit at Notre Dame University on Nov. 15 put on by the Indiana Attorney General's Office.


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    Prosecutor Hermann seeks more funds for Weisheit murder case

    Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann has asked the Vanderburgh County Council to appropriate an additional $250,000 to help pay for the upcoming death penalty trial of Jeffrey Weisheit, who is charged with the murders of his fiancee's two young children in April 2010.

    "The burden is on us to present the case and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime charged, and unfortunately that takes money," Hermann told council members last week. "I'm well aware of the financial situation of the county. I know this couldn't come at a worse time to ask."

    Weisheit is accused of killing 8-year-old Alyssa and 5-year-old Caleb Lynch by setting a northern Vanderburgh County home on fire with them inside.

    The trial, which is scheduled to start in August, has been moved to Clark County, near Louisville, Ky., because of pretrial publicity. While Hermann told the council he expects the trial to last three weeks, the judge in the case blocked out the entire month.

    "Our hotel bill alone is probably going to be in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $50,000," he said.

    The council could vote on Hermann's request when it meets Wednesday morning.

    The council approved $500,000 to the public defender's office last year to fund Weisheit's defense, out of legal obligation. The county will be reimbursed for about $200,000 of that money through the state's public defender's office to cover half of Weisheit's attorney fees.

    Hermann assured the council the requested funds were necessary to cover travel fees and to pay experts that match or exceed the credentials the defense plans to bring in. He said the money is not to pay his employees extra for their work.

    "When you come back on appeal, and if we don't have things in the record, if we don't have experts backing up the judge's rulings, then we're not going to be able to succeed either with the death penalty phase or as it goes into appeal."

    All seven members prodded Hermann for more than 30 minutes, searching for other avenues to pay for the trial. Asked how death penalty trials were funded in the past, Hermann said costs were absorbed using previously lucrative coffers, such as the infraction deferral fund and the money from check deception that has since dried up.

    Just a few years ago, Hermann said the deferral fund brought in more than $35,000 per month. Now it generates about $5,000 per month.

    Saying the approval of Hermann's request would "break our bank," Councilman Mike Goebel asked Hermann to break down the costs of previous capital cases so officials can continue to search for ways to find savings.

    "We don't want to step in to your position or your job, but financially I don't know how we can do this," Goebel said.

    Council President Joe Kiefer said the county's general fund, used for additional appropriations requests, has a balance of about $515,000, while requests made for Wednesday's meeting including Hermann's totaled more than $404,000.

    Councilman Tom Shetler also requested Hermann's office provide an itemized breakdown of the requested $250,000 by Wednesday's meeting, before a possible vote.

    While expressing his own concerns about costs, Councilman Russ Lloyd Jr. said he believes much of the community supports pursuing the death penalty against Weisheit.

    That support is essential, Hermann said, given that a death penalty case cost incurred by taxpayers is astronomical. He said a capital punishment case costs the prosecuting county about $450,000, 10 times more than a pursuit of life without parole in a murder trial. This case is already expected to greatly exceed that price, he said.

    Herman said denial of his request by council makes it less likely that any conviction and death sentence will survive the lengthy appeals process.

    "These cases are very difficult at the trial level. One, you're asking 12 people to unanimously decide to execute someone, and then secondly you know you're going to have 20 to 30 years' worth of appeals," he said.

    "I don't want to see us spend whatever amount of money we spend on this, get a conviction, get a death penalty sentence and then see it overturned a couple years from now, and it's all for nought," the prosecutor said.


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    Defense attorney for death penalty case dies

    Timothy Dodd, an Evansville lawyer well-known as a defense attorney and for his advocacy on behalf of lawyers and judges struggling with addictions and life issues, died Thursday at Deaconess Hospital.

    Dodd, 69, was lead defense council in the murder trial of Jeffrey Weisheit, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 16 in Jeffersonville, Ind., where it was relocated after he successfully argued for a change of venue. Weisheit faces the death penalty for the alleged murders of his girlfriend's two children on April 10, 2010 in rural Vanderburgh County.

    It was unclear how his death will affect the trial. His co-council, Vanderburgh County chief public defender Stephen Owens, was not available for comment Friday. Under Indiana trial rules, defendants in death penalty cases are required to have two attorneys.

    "Tim's passing is a great loss to the legal community. The professionalism and experience with which he approached his job served as a model for all of us," said Nicholas Hermann, Vanderburgh County prosecutor.

    A practicing attorney in Indiana since 1966, Dodd made a name for himself as a public defender, handling numerous cases including that of Paul McManus, who was ultimately convicted of the February 2001 murder of his wife and two children.

    "He was a very bright and wonderful attorney," said Susan Vollmar, director of the Evansville Bar Association.

    Dodd, who maintained his own law office, was also a part-time public defender.

    Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Wayne Trockman noted that while the job of being a public defense attorney was more often thought of as a low-paying job for young lawyers, Dodd made it his calling.

    "Tim did it for a lifetime because he knew he was making a difference," Trockman said.

    While his colleagues said that Dodd's struggles with alcohol were no secret, he drew on his personal experiences and natural empathy to help others with their life struggles.

    "Tim never hid the fact that he was an impaired lawyer himself at one time," Trockman said.

    Attorney Michelle Bryant, who worked with Dodd on the Evansville Bar Association's Lawyers Assistance Program, said Dodd was instrumental in convincing the Indiana Supreme Court to create the statewide Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program to help judges, lawyer and law students find resources to help with addictions, mental health issues and life struggles.

    "Countless lawyers around here really owe him a great deal of gratitude," she said. "He was always willing to forgive and move forward."

    Vollman said Dodd also worked with the Evansville Bar Associaton and the state's Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program to convince the Indiana Supreme Court to create a rule requiring lawyers practicing alone to name a surrogate attorney who could handle their cases and affairs in event of their own death.

    Trockman said Dodd was always interested in helping lawyers be at their best.

    "When a lawyer had a problem he was a first responder," Trockman said.

    He said Dodd had an instinct for helping others.

    "Tim was very empathetic and that spread to all aspects of his work and certainly to his clients," he said. "Tim and I did an intervention just recently. Working with Tim in that was always a great learning experience in human nature."

    Trockman recalled how Dodd would sometimes speak to the participants in the county treatment courts, telling them that they should never forget their pasts because it would help them learn in their future.


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    Delay Likely in Evansville Death Penalty Case

    It appears the Jeffery Weisheit death penalty case will be delayed.

    A spokesperson for the Vanderburgh County Public Defender's Office says it is likely the judge in the case will appoint a new attorney for Weisheit Friday.

    Weisheit's former attorney, Timothy Dodd, died last month.

    However, the spokesperson says the new attorney will propbably ask that the case be delayed.

    It was scheduled to begin next month.

    Weisheit is accused of killing his girlfriend's two children in their home in Nothern Vanderburgh County in April of 2010.


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    Weisheit Gets Into A Fight In Jail

    An Evansville man facing the death penalty is involved in a fight at the Vanderburgh County Jail.

    Jeffrey Weisheit got into the altercation with another inmate Thursday.

    Weisheit is accussed of setting his girlfriend's house on fire while her children were still inside.

    Deputies say Weisheit and Jeremy Wood got into the fight in a recreation yard.

    Wood claims Weisheit spit on him. Weisheit claims Wood and other inmates were calling him a "homo" and a "child killer," and that Wood threw the first punch.


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