The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 14, 2012

And now it’s son’s turn

Opening arguments begin in second trial in murder of Eleanor Robertson

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

PAINESVILLE — Two more minutes and Scot Roberston would have made the gruesome discovery of his mother’s mutilated body — stabbed more than 90 times — buried under clothing and a mattress.

“I had my hand on the mattress, lifting it up,” he said, “and I started to move the clothes and stuff when the Madison police officers came in and said I had to leave.”

Robertson didn’t know it at the time, but his hand was within inches of his mother’s body on June 13, he testified in Zachary Weimer’s murder trial in Lake County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.

The jury heard opening arguments and testimony as Weimer, 23, faces 17 charges including aggravated murder, burglary and receiving stolen property. He is accused of stabbing 77-year-old Madison Township resident Eleanor Robertson more than 90 times before dousing her body with chemicals and robbing the house of valuables.

In his opening arguments, assistant Lake County public defender James Mathews said the prosecution’s lack of DNA evidence and eyewitnesses in the case are “holes.”

“There were extensive searches of the house and none of Zack’s fingerprints, none of his DNA was found,” Mathews said.

Mathews also told the jury that investigators failed to find Robertson’s DNA on Weimer, his clothing, or in any of the vehicles he was in on or after June 13.

“There are no eyewitnesses who saw him enter or exit (Robertson’s) house,” Mathews said. “This was an incredible amount of investigation. They pulled out all the stops, and there are a lot of holes in the state’s case.”

Lake County assistant prosecutor, Mark Bartolotta, opened the state’s case with physical evidence against Weimer — four shoe prints in Robertson’s bedroom, on the mattress cover that was hiding Robertson’s body.

“The investigators, they found those shoe prints and then they just needed the shoes to compare them with — white, high-top Nike shoes — and (Weimer’s) shoes match the size, shape, model and same wear pattern as the shoe prints in Eleanor’s bedroom,” he said.

Bartolotta said the evidence against Weimer, including recorded police questioning and testimony from Weimer’s jail house friend, will tell the story of what happened to Roberston.

There is no mystery as to why Robertson died, he said.

“This was about (Weimer’s) addiction,” Bartolotta said. “You got the money, that’s all he cares about, not the string of victims. Drug use, drug sales, it’s not a victimless crime. It becomes all that matters to them — get the money, get the drugs, get the high — that’s all that they care about.”

For her part in the murder and burglary, Weimer’s mother, Danna Weimer of Austinburg Township, was convicted of 17 identical charges last month in Lake County Common Pleas Court. She will be sentenced by Judge Eugene Lucci on Dec. 12, court records show.

She has also requested a public defender for purposes of appeal, court records show.

Mathews didn’t assert his client’s innocence, but asked the jury to stick to the letter of the law — no emotions allowed.

“There are a lot of holes in the state’s case, and you can’t allow yourself to fill those holes with the pain of the victim’s family and your own anger,” he said. “Be emotionally detached fact finders for this court. The state has not met its burden in this case.”