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June 19, 2013

Weisheit found guilty of murder, arson

Jury moves on to penalty phase

JEFFERSONVILLE —

A Clark County jury found Jeffrey Alan Weisheit guilty on all counts after nearly two hours of deliberation Tuesday following a trial that spanned more than two weeks.

Weisheit, 37, was found guilty of two counts of class A felony murder and one count of class A felony arson.

He was arrested April 10, 2010, after he set fire to his Evansville home and killed his then-girlfriend’s two children, Caleb Lynch, 5, and Alyssa Lynch 8, who were in the home.

The guilty verdict could send Weisheit to death row in the Indiana Department of Corrections following the results of sentencing proceedings, which are scheduled to begin today.

The trial was held in Clark County because of the media attention surrounding the case in Vanderburgh County.

Much of the trial seemed to teeter on whether or not the jury would be convinced Weisheit committed the arson.

Although the prosecution’s case, delivered by Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutors Gary Schutte and Charles Berger, boasted a long stream of witnesses that included several fire officials, it did not prove the cause of the fire.

The home burned virtually to ground, and if accelerants were used, they either burned away completely or were washed away by the thousands of gallons of water used to extinguish the blaze.

Weisheit’s court-appointed attorney Michael McDaniel, of New Albany, impressed upon the jurors throughout the trial, “Without proof of arson, there is no murder conviction.”

Circumstantial evidence provided by Schutte and Berger ultimately bridged that gap for the jurors, however.

Against the recommendation of his attorney, Weisheit testified in his own defense Monday.

He told the jurors how he was watching the children while their mother worked a 12-hour shift at a plastic manufacturer 40 minutes away the night of the early-morning fire.

He said Caleb Lynch was argumentative when he told him to go to bed and that he responded by binding the child’s hands with duct tape, stuffed his mouth with a 12-inch-by-12-inch dish cloth and placed tape over mouth before leaving the home in his Chevrolet Camaro.

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