The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 15, 2012

Brother, inmate testify in murder trial

Star Beacon

PAINESVILLE —  The soles of the white, high-top tennis shoes held by Lake County Forensic Investigator David Green were black, highlighting the circular pattern of the tread, the ink pointing the finger of guilt at 23-year-old accused murderer Zachary Weimer.

The size 11 1/2 “Air Force One” shoes may have been designed by Nike, but they — and the shoe prints they left behind — belong to Weimer, Green testified in Lake County Common Pleas court on Thursday.

Weimer faces 17 charges including aggravated murder, burglary and receiving stolen property. He is accused of stabbing 77-year-old Eleanor Robertson 94 times before dousing her body with chemicals and robbing the house of valuables.

“The size, tread, pattern, wear of the sole — they are all consistent with the impressions I made at the crime lab to the four shoe prints we recovered at the murder scene,” Green said.

The shoe prints were found, “almost by accident,” Green said, as investigators carefully processed trace evidence after 77-year-old Madison Township resident Eleanor Robertson was found dead in her home on June 13.

“I was processing (the victim’s) bedding, the dust ruffle cover, for hairs,” Green said, “and I saw what appeared to be dust on the one corner. The dust was shoe prints.”

Green said Robertson’s body, which was hidden under clothing and a mattress, had been burned with sulfuric acid, which caused the carpeting around the body to completely disintegrate.

“The carpet fibers were actually gone,” Green testified.

The four footprints found at Robertson’s Canterbury Drive home and one partial fingerprint found on stolen property at Weimer’s mother’s home point the finger of murder at Zachary, crime scene investigator and trace evidence specialist Ray Jorz testified.

Shoulders squared and eyes down, 25-year-old Greg Weimer began his testimony against his younger brother, his expression emotionless.

But Greg Weimer’s blank stare and monotone voice dissolved when his gaze connected with his brother’s.

Greg Weimer told the jury how he allowed his drug-addicted brother to live in his Madison Township home to help him kick his illegal habits. Within a week, Zachary had attempted to cash $250 in fraudulent checks from Greg’s account and became implicated in Robertson’s murder. Robertson lived across the street from Greg Weimer.

Lake County assistant public defender James Mathews took witness Richard Gould to task Thursday, saying Weimer’s former jail house friend’s testimony sounded a lot like a newspaper story published when the two were still incarcerated together.

In jail for burglary himself, Gould struck up a friendship with Zachary Weimer. In his testimony Thursday, Gould said he befriended Weimer by helping him detox from heroin.

“Within five or six days he started to confide in me,” Gould said.

Gould said Weimer was worried about his mother, Danna Weimer, who was also being held at the jail for her part in Robertson’s burglary and death.

“Little by little, he started opening up about things,” Gould said. “He said he and his buddy planned to rob an old lady. When she answered the door, they rushed in and demanded a safe and stabbed her with a screwdriver.”

“It was pretty horrific,” he said.

Other details, such as pouring perfume and nail polish remover on the body and lighting candles all over the scene “to incinerate the body,” were also revealed in these long talks, Gould said.

“They were going to tip over a candle and make it look like a fire, like an accident,” he said.

Mathews said these are all details outlined in a front-page newspaper article available to all inmates and parroted by Gould for a much-reduced jail sentence on felony theft charges.

Lake County assistant prosecutor Mark Bartolotta said asked Gould if he had any reason to lie to the jury.

“It would hurt me to lie right now,” Gould testified. “Perjury is a crime and a violation of my probation. I have 19 years of jail time hanging over my head if I violate probation. I have two small children I want to see grow up.”