Friday, September 5th, 2008
Defense negotiating before trial
Quadruple fatality case
By Margie Wuebker
With the clock ticking toward a scheduled trial date, attorneys met behind closed doors Wednesday morning at Mercer County Common Pleas Court but came to no consensus on the case of a 22-year-old Chickasaw man charged in connection with the deaths of four area men.
After more than 11/2 hours of discussion, Judge Jeffrey Ingraham continued the final pretrial hearing to Sept. 16 - six days before a jury trial is scheduled to convene in the third-floor courtroom. The trial would commence Sept. 22 and continue through Sept. 26.
Nicholas R. Schwieterman, 90 S. Maple St., faces 16 charges stemming from the March 15 traffic accident that claimed the lives of Jordan Moeller, Jordan Diller, Brad Roeckner and Jordan Goettemoeller.
Neither attorneys Marc Ross and Scott Calaway of Dayton nor Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox had time to talk. The defense team immediately left with Schwieterman and members of his family to discuss what had transpired while Fox went to a nearby conference room for a lengthy closed-door talk with parents of the four victims, all members of the Marion Local High School Class of 2007.
Documents regarding the continuance were filed minutes later at the clerk of courts office, adding another sheet to the defendant's thick case file.
The state filed paperwork just prior to the Labor Day weekend resulting in the issuance of subpoenas to 21 people who could be called as trial witnesses. They include rescue squad personnel and Chickasaw firefighters who responded to the accident scene at the intersection of County Road 716A and Brockman Road and hospital personnel who treated the defendant and/or performed blood and urine tests which allegedly showed the presence of alcohol and drugs in his system. Law enforcement personnel also are included on the list.
On Sept. 2, defense attorneys filed a discovery request seeking to preserve, produce and/or make available for inspection a list of 10 things including any and all statements of the defendant and co-defendants, copies of all video and audio recordings of the alleged incident(s) forming the basis for charges, the defendant's criminal record and the names, addresses and criminal records of all witnesses the state intends to call at trial.
The state earlier requested a change of venue citing pretrial publicity including a letter to the editor written by the Schwieterman family. Other reasons cited were the close ties the affected families have to the greater Marion community and the number of intended witnesses affecting the potential jury pool.
Ingraham subsequently struck the change of venue motion from the record at the request of Ross and Calaway, who noted their client is not seeking a trial and would enter a plea to four counts of involuntary manslaughter, all first-degree felonies, with no agreement as to sentencing or even sentencing range leaving a potential sentence of 40 years available.
Schwieterman allegedly failed to stop for the Brockman Road stop sign and continued into the intersection striking a car carrying the four victims. The young men, ages 18 and 19, were pronounced dead at the scene.
In addition to the four first-degree felonies, he faces eight counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts each of possessing drugs and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs of abuse.
Schwieterman remains under electronic monitoring at home after his father posted $200,000 - 10 percent of the $2 million bond set in the case.