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Defendant Takes The Stand

KSAL StaffApril 4, 2014

A man on trial in connection with a Salina murder last Spring testifies in his own defense.

A murder trial for Dane DeWeese, one of three people accused in the Spring 2013 disappearance and murder of 27-year-old Kristin Tyler, wrapped up its second full week Friday in Saline County District Court.

Initially DeWeese’s girlfriend Megan Wells was called to testify to begin the day. Wells is one of the three defendants in the case. She is facing conspiracy charges. Wells was advised that anything she said could be used against her in her own pending case. Prior to taking the stand she conferred with her attorney, prosecutors, defense attorney Doug Thompson, and Judge Jared Johnson. Wells ended up not testifying.

DeWeese then was called to testify, and spent the rest of the day on the stand.

Last week in the trial Joel Heil, the third co-defendant in the case, implicated DeWeese in the murder. Heil testified that he and DeWeese drove Tyler to a location in rural Saline County. Heil admitted to beating and strangling her, and accused DeWeese of helping hold her face in mud, and then in water as she died. Heil said the motive was that DeWeese suspected that Tyler stole drugs and money from him, and that she and a friend were possibly acting as confidential informants for the police.

DeWeese gave a much different version of what happened. Thompson said to him “you are charged for the murder of Kristin and with conspiracy.” He then asked “did you do it?” DeWeese answered “absolutely not.”

DeWeese said that he did give a ride to Heil and Tyler the night she disappeared. He said that Heil had communicated to him that he needed a ride to go “on a run”, meaning that he needed a ride to go get some drugs. DeWeeses say that he took Heil to a home in the Indian Village area, then went and got fuel in his vehicle. He says he then took Heil and Tyler back to Heil’s house and dropped them off.

DeWeese admitted to being a drug user. He said that he “dabbled” with meth and marijuana. He said that he considered his drug use to be “substantial but not heavy”. But he said that he is not, and never has been, a drug dealer.

Thompson asked “did you have any reason to kill Kristin, did you have any issues with her?” DeWeeses replied “Absolutley not, no”.

The prosecution pointed out some inconsistencies with DeWeese’s testimony. He had testified that the last time he spoke with Heil was when he dropped him off at his house. But phone records indicate that DeWeese called Heil the next day. He said he didn’t recall making the call, but if he did he was sure it was to try and get drugs. “The only reason I ever contacted Joel was to get drugs” DeWeese said.

The prosecution also pointed out several other inconsistencies from DeWeese, including details about the clothes he was wearing that night, and what happened to them.

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.

Week three of DeWeese’s trial will begin Monday.

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