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June 18, 2013

Double-murder defendant takes witness stand against advice of counsel

JEFFERSONVILLE —

An Evansville man who could be sentenced to death if found guilty in a verdict expected this week took the witness stand in his own defense Monday in a Clark County court.

Jeffrey Weisheit, 37, sporting a black suit he was worn since the start of the trial on June 3, told the jurors that he did not set the fire to his own home in 2010 that resulted in the deaths of his then-girlfriend’s children, Caleb Lynch, 5, and Alyssa Lynch, 8.

Weisheit has been charged in Vanderburgh County with two counts of class A felony murder and one count of A felony arson. 

He was the last witness called to testify by his court-appointed attorney Michael McDaniel, of New Albany, even though McDaniel had recommended Weisheit not testify.

McDaniel said it was not determined Weisheit would take the witness stand until 1 p.m., a very short time after the defense had thought it had completed its presentation to the jurors.

“He waited until the last minute to make the decision,” McDaniel said. “It’s his decision.”

Weisheit testified that shortly before the time of the fatal fire, he was watching the children while their mother was at her job nearly 40 minutes away.

He explained during his testimony that he had fallen asleep on a couch while watching television then he put the children to bed before talking to their mother on the phone.

Not long afterward, Weisheit said he heard a “loud pop” come from Caleb Lynch’s room so he went to the bedroom and the boy was there playing with toy trucks and cars.

Weisheit said Caleb Lynch refused to go to bed and, “It was the first time he really ever fought me.”

He said he decided to get out of the house. “I got to get out of here. I got to go,” he told the jurors during his recounting of the incident, and added that it is not out of the ordinary for him to remove himself from situations when he feels overwhelmed.

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