Ohio mother on trial for murder

Tracey Read TRead@News-Herald.com @TraceyReporting writer Published:

LAKE COUNTY (AP) --An Austinburg Township woman accused of helping to burglarize and murder a Madison Township resident is claiming her arrest by Euclid police stemmed from an illegal stop and search.

Danna Weimer, 52, also is arguing Madison Township police continued to interrogate her after she requested a lawyer.

Weimer and her son, Zachary Weimer, are accused of killing 77-year-old Eleanor Robertson, whose body was discovered in her Canterbury Drive home the evening of June 13.

Danna Weimer was in Lake County Common Pleas Court Monday with defense attorney Aaron T. Baker to ask Judge Eugene A. Lucci to suppress evidence from her arrest and statements from the "unconstitutional interrogation" at her trial.

She also wants the judge to suppress handwritten letters she reportedly wrote to her son in jail.

Assistant County Prosecutor Mark Bartolotta called three police witnesses to the stand Monday.

Euclid Patrolman Donald Ivory testified he approached Danna while she was alone in her car the evening of June 13 in the parking lot of a jewelry-purchasing store on East 200th Street, which he called an area known for drug activity.

"She was leaned over into the passenger seat. I thought maybe she was passed out," Ivory said.

Once he got closer, Ivory said he saw Danna testing jewelry with a magnet to see if it was real.

The patrolman testified that there appeared to be about 50 pieces of jewelry in the front seat, plus a jewelry box on the floor.

Danna reportedly told him the jewelry was her son's, and that he was inside the store.

Ivory said after he asked Danna for her driver's license, he saw a syringe in her purse. When he asked if she was diabetic, she said no.

Ivory called for backup, and said Danna consented to a search of the car, which resulted in other items being found -- including a switchblade, digital scale, a pellet gun with the tip painted black to look like a real gun and a lockbox with the name "E. Robertson" on it.

Meanwhile, Zachary Weimer came out of the store and told Ivory his name was Gregory Weimer, the officer said.

"He kept pacing around, sticking his hands in his pockets," Ivory added.

After he was handcuffed, the suspect's driver's license with his real name on it was discovered in his pockets, and Zachary was arrested for falsification, the officer said.

"(Zachary) said the jewelry was his mother's," Ivory said.

Danna was booked on suspicion of drug abuse.

Meanwhile, Madison Township police learned that their missing person case had become a homicide in the middle of their hour and a half interview with Danna.

"She was calm and cooperative," Police Lt. Tim Brown said. "I felt like she was trying to cover up for her son a little bit."

Baker argued that police continued to question Danna even after she asked for a lawyer several times.

Bartolotta noted Danna herself instigated a new conversation with police after saying, "I'm done. I don't want to answer anymore. I want a lawyer."

Baker said Danna -- who is charged with aggravated murder and 16 other offenses -- never should have been arrested for even the drug crimes.

"All we have is a syringe and a purse," Baker said. "There's nothing illegal about a syringe or a purse. There was nothing to indicate the property was stolen."

But Bartolotta called the arrest the result of "great police work."

Lucci will review all the evidence -- including police tapes in their entirety -- before making a ruling on any of the motions.

Chief Assistant County Prosecutor Karen Kowall said letters that Danna wrote to her son in jail also should be admitted.

"The letters were torn up in tiny pieces and re-created," Kowall said. "In the letters, they were trying to get their stories straight."

Lake County Coroner Dr. Lynn Smith previously testified that the victim probably died June 12 and appeared to have been burned or doused with chemicals. She had about 90 puncture wounds on her body from a knife or a stick, Smith said.

Related articles:

Mother and son indicted in murder of Madison woman (with court documents) (Aug. 15, 2012)

Judge Michael A. Cicconetti calls case of accused killers Danna and Zachary Weimer 'weak' (video) (June 26, 2012)

Hearings delayed for mother, son accused of murder in Madison Township case (June 18, 2012)

Eleanor Robertson identified as victim of Madison Twp. homicide (with video) (June 15, 2012)

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