The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 22, 2012

A van full of evidence

Murder victim liked Indians, fundraising

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

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The discovery of murder victim Eleanor Robertson’s mini van may have opened a whole new batch of evidence for Lake County assistant prosecutor Mark Bartolotta and his legal team, as they gear up to present evidence in Zachary Weimer’s jury trial.

“This is a whole different trial,” Bartolotta said. “Some witnesses between the mother and son trials may overlap, sure, but we have to present all the evidence to a whole new judge and jury.”

Weimer, 22, of Geneva, faces 17 charges  — ranging from aggravated murder and aggravated burglary to tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property, in the brutal murder of 77-year-old Eleanor Robertson in June.

Bartolotta said he isn’t sure if the state will offer Zachary Weimer a plea deal given the new potential evidence found in the van, but he said such a deal, “isn’t out of the question.”

“Honestly, all I can say is that we will be in touch with his defense and we will have some conversations, but the possibility (of a plea deal) has not been discussed yet,” he said.

A jury of 12 convicted Zachary Weimer’s mother, Danna Weimer, of the same 17 charges Monday in Lake County Common Pleas Court. She faces life in prison and will be sentenced on Nov. 7.

Robertson was found dead in her Canterbury Drive home by Madison Township police on June 13, the victim of an apparent burglary.

She was bludgeoned to death and had 94 puncture wounds across her body, Lake County Coroner Lynn Smith said. Robertson’s body had been burned or doused with chemicals and was found under layers of clothing and a mattress.

While Danna Weimer was convicted of complicity and with no physical evidence to place her at the murder and burglary scene, forensics weren’t so forgiving to Zachary.

Not only did crime scene investigators find Zachary’s footprints, which were matched exactly to his white, high-top tennis shoes, on Robertson’s bed, they also have surveillance video of Zachary driving Robertson’s van and jail house letters sent between mother and son.

A man riding an all-terrain vehicle on Oct. 14 found Robertson’s van hidden in a wooded area off Shaffer Road in Morgan Township, Madison Police Chief Leonard DelCalzo said.

“We are hopeful that there will be even more evidence found in the van,” he said. “It really couldn’t have been found at a better time.”

DelCalzo said the van is “being processed” by forensic examiners now.

Bartolotta said the discovery, “puts a whole different spin” on preparations for Zachary’s Nov. 13 trial.