The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 15, 2012

Murder trial turns gruesome

Victim’s skull fractured, body burned Madison murder

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

PAINESVILLE — The photos of Eleanor Robertson’s body are gruesome.

Robertson lies crumpled on the floor amid clothing and blankets, a candle in the crook of her arm, blood seeping from 94 puncture wounds, her lifeless form barely recognizable because of thermal and chemical burns on her skin.

Some of her hair is missing, and so are her bottom teeth. Fabric is stuck to her seeping skin.

Jurors leaned forward, some gasping, others breathing deeply, as they viewed the crime scene and autopsy photos in Lake County Common Pleas court on Wednesday afternoon as Cuyahoga County deputy medical examiner Erica Armstrong outlined the details of the body.

Slumped in his seat, accused murderer Zachary Weimer, 23, rested his head on his hand and viewed the photos along with the jury. Several jurors glanced at Weimer occasionally. If their glances were to gauge the accused’s reaction, they were disappointed — Weimer didn’t so much as blink.

Weimer faces 17 charges including aggravated murder, burglary and receiving stolen property in the June 13 burglary and murder of 77-year-old Robertson. If found guilty, he faces life in prison for the crimes.

Of the 94 puncture wounds of varying size and shape across Robertson’s body — 34 of which were on her right arm, one stab wound went all the way through Robertson’s neck, Armstrong said.

“She was stabbed in the right temple,” she testified. “(The weapon) went into the bone of the skull, fracturing the skull and penetrating the surface of the brain.”

The wounds, Armstrong said, may have been inflicted with more than one murder weapon.

One after another, the state’s witnesses testified about the crime scene, the evidence collected at Robertson’s Madison Township home on Canterbury Drive, and the evidence collected and Weimer’s mother’s home in Austinburg Township.

Weimer’s mother, Danna Weimer, 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.

Lake County public defender James Mathews asked Armstrong several questions regarding Robertson’s blood — or the lack of blood — at the crime scene. While the blood trapped and pooled in Robertson’s body was gathered and measured during the autopsy, and some blood was found at the murder scene, a “significant amount of blood” is unaccounted for, Mathews said.

“I’m just saying that I sliced off the very tip of my finger and blood poured out,” he said. “It filled my whole hand. If there are 94 wounds, all bleeding, where did the blood go?”

Testimony for the state continues today in Judge Vincent Culotta’s courtroom.