Judge Hears Arguments In Salina Murder Case
KSAL Staff - March 14, 2014 5:09 pm
A Shawnee County judge declared a mistrial on a murder charge against a Topeka man involved in fatal road-rage confrontation.
One of three people accused in a Salina murder appeared in Saline County District Court Friday afternoon.
Last spring 27-year-old Kristin Tyler of Salina went missing. The mother of four was missing two weeks before her body was found in a ravine off Interstate 135 in rural Saline County.
25-year-old Joel Heil, 33-year-old Dane DeWeese, and 21-year-old Megan Wells, all of Abilene, are charged in the case.
DeWeese, who will stand trial first, was in court Friday afternoon as Judge Jared Johnson heard pretrial motions in the case.
At issue was how much criminal history, if any, about Heil can be used during the trial. Heil is accused of being the main participant in the murder, and is expected to testify against Deweese during the trial.
DeWeese’s attorney argued that in his defense case he should be able to use criminal history dating back to when Heil was 5-years-old. He said Heil has admitted to a life of crime, dating back to when he was “institutionalized at age 5”.
The attorney also argued to use Heil’s “extensive history of drug abuse”, saying that by Heil’s own admission “I am a monster when I do meth”.
The defense contended that Heil’s credibility is at issue, so it’s important that his criminal history and drug use be known.
Judge Johnson found that offenses and drug use not related to the murder cannot be presented to the jury. But he added that if Heil brings up things about his past while testifying that his ruling might change, and previous criminal history and drug use information might possibly be allowed.
The case began when Tyler disappeared back on April 25th. 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.
Shortly after the body was found police arrested Heil and DeWeese. Megan Wells was arrested on February 26th of this year.
DeWeese’s trial is set to begin March 24th. Heil’s trial is scheduled for May. A trial date for Wells not yet been set.
The Saline County Sheriff’s Office and the Salina Police Department are continuing to investigate the case.