Drug Life Testimony At Trial
Todd Pittenger - March 28, 2014 5:42 pm
A 21-year-old man has pleaded no contest to a murder charge in the 2014 death of a Pittsburg State student.
After spending all of Thursday afternoon answering questions asked by the prosecution, a co-defendant in a Salina murder trial was questioned by the defense on Friday.
Joel Heil, one of three people accused in the disappearance and murder of Kristin Tyler in Salina last Spring, described the murder in depth Thursday. He implicated Dane DeWeese, who is currently on trial in the case.
Heil Friday was asked about his agreement with the prosecution in exchange for his “truthful testimony”. He said that it is his understading that state will not seek the “Hard 50”, or a prison sentence with a minimum of 50 years being served before parole eligibility. Instead, the state will seek a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years being served before parole eligibility.
Heil was also asked about his history of drug use. He said that he began using methampheatmine when he was 15-years-old. He stopped when he was 19, but began again in February of 2013. He said that he used meth daily, everyday until he was arrested in May. The effects of the drug made him not be able to sleep or eat.
Heil said that the death of a baby caused him to begin using meth again. He testified that his fiancé lost their baby. He said that while in jail he married his fiancé, but has since had the marriage annulled.
The prosecution objected to the line of questioning. Defense attorney Doug Thompson said “the state only wants chapter 5 of this story, but I’d kind of like it cover to cover”. District Judge Jared Johnson let the questioning continue.
Heil was asked how he funded his drug use. He said was dealing meth, as was Dane DeWeese. His suppliers were from Salina, and Wichita. Heil said he was not making money dealing the drug, but rather doing it to obtain meth to keep his habit going.
Thompson quizzed Heil on where he got his drugs. Heil said he got them from multiple sources in Salina and Wichita. He hesitated when asked to specifically name who his supplier in Wichita was. He first said “I never saw him, I worked with a middle man”. When asked to identify that middle man, he again hesitated, then refused saying “I plead the 5th”. The Judge called for an immediate recess and conferred with the attorneys. When open court resumed the same question was asked. Again Heil refused to answer, until the judge ordered him to answer the question. Heil then identified his cousin Joshua Tucker as the person who supplied his drugs from Wichita.
Prosecutor Christina Trochek objected several times to the line of questioning. At one point when she asked how a question was relevant, Thompson replied “how is it relevant? I think Mr. Heil is lying and…” He did not finish the statement before being cut off and admonished by Judge Johnson.
Heil, who admitted to smoking meth several times the day of the murder, was asked if he was sure who was with him during the crime. “100 percent postiive” he replied.
Among those who also testified Friday was Joel Heil’s mother, Debra Munk. Munk said that Heil confessed the murder to her several days after it happened. The two went for a drive, and he told her “I’ve done something I can’t take back”. When she pressed him for more information he said “we killed someone”. Munk said she told her mother what Joel had told her, and the two then consulted a pastor before going to the police with the information.
Heil initially was prepared to go to trial. In January, though, he had a change of heart. Munk testified that Joel told her that “he couldn’t live anymore with what he had done”. She said he told her that he was going to “tell the truth”.
The trial revolves around the disappearance and murder of Kristin Tyler. She disappeared on April 25th of last year. Her body was discovered on May 9th, just west of Salina on Stimmel Road below Interstate 135. Numerous law enforcement officers had been searching the area, and a sheriff deputy on patrol made the discovery.
Dane DeWeese, Joel Heil, and Megan Wells all are charged in the case.
DeWeese’s trial is expected to last through next week.