The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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October 6, 2012

Testimony continues in Madison Township murder

Former inmate tells jury mother and son confessed

PAINESVILLE — Zachary Weimer meant to burn Eleanor Robertson’s Madison Township home to the ground after he brutally stabbed her 94 times with a screwdriver and buried her body under a mattress and piles of clothing, former inmate Richard Gould testified in Lake County Common Pleas Court on Friday.

In jail for burglary himself, Gould struck up a friendship with Zachary Weimer while the two were incarcerated in the Lake County Jail earlier this year, Weimer being held, along with his mother, Danna Weimer, in Robertson’s death.

“(Zachary) said he put a candle on (Robertson) to incinerate her,” Gould testified. “He always referred to (Robertson) as, ‘that stupid -----,’ but I said, you know, ‘hey, have some respect for the dead.’”

Gould said Zachary Weimer stabbed the woman, “until his arms were tired,” and then wrapped the body in a quilt while “his buddy” cleaned up the blood splatter with bleach, “to kill the DNA.”

“Every time (Zachary) talked about it, about what he did, he had a smile on his face. But he would never say what happened to the van,” Gould said. “But he would smile like it was a big joke.”

Police are still searching for Robertson’s  red 1995 Plymouth Voyager mini van.

Zachary Weimer and “his buddy” never got the chance to catch the house on fire, Gould said.

“They heard something outside and got spooked,” he said.

Gould testified as part of Danna Weimer's murder and burglary trial, which is expected to continue late into next week.

Gould, who was in jail for stealing jewelry from three real estate open houses when he met Zachary Weimer, faced 18 years in prison for the felony thefts, but received probation at the request of the prosecution.

Danna Weimer’s defense attorney Aaron Baker asked Gould if he received special consideration at sentencing for his cooperation in the Robertson murder investigation.

“I wasn’t asking for nothing,” he said. “My coming here is the old Richard, doing the right thing no matter what. I was fully prepared to go to prison.”

Other than his confessions to Gould, Zachary Weimer also entrusted the fellow jail mate with several letters his mother had written to him, allegedly implicating herself in the murder, Gould testified.

The jailhouse letters sent between Danna Weimer and her son, Zachary Weimer, were the cause of much conversation in the testimony Friday. Who sent the letters, who received them, who held them, and how they were recovered, restored and even the fingerprints on the letters was discussed, but the content of the letters is still a mystery to the jury.

Gould said Zachary Weimer was afraid to keep the letters in his own cell, and instead asked Gould to hold onto them.

“(Zachary) came into my cell and said he didn’t know what he was going to do with the letters from his mom. He let me read them and asked me to hold onto them for him because he was paranoid. He was afraid the guards would toss his cell and take them for evidence,” he said.

Inmates at the Lake County Jail are strictly prohibited from sending any correspondence to others within the jail population, Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. James Turek said.

Gould said while Zachary Weimer never mentioned his mother as he confessed to Gould, the letters in Danna Weimer’s own handwriting is proof of her guilt.

“He did not say that she had any part in this, but the letters say she helped him,” Gould testified.

Along with the 17 sheets of paper that make up the jailhouse correspondence between Zachary and Danna Weimer, officers also found a bowl with shredded paper and water in it in Danna’s cell. The scraps were dried out and reconstructed into the original letter.

Greg Weimer, Danna’s youngest son and Robertson’s neighbor, also identified several letters his mother had written to him while she was in jail.

Greg Weimer said both Danna and Zachary sent him letters from jail and he turned them over to police because he was asked to do so.

Baker attempted to discredit Gould by associating his cooperation with the prosecution with his sentencing in the burglary cases. He also reminded the jury that Gould is a felon.

“You are dressed very nicely today,” Baker told Gould during cross-examination. “Do you dress like that when you rob houses?”

Several other witnesses testified to Danna and Zachary Weimer’s shared drug abuse, which included cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

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