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Crystal Dawn Weimer

SCI Cambridge Springs (PA) #
Convicted 200?
Conspiracy to Murder

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Weimer charged again with murder

By Marsha Forys

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004,

A Fayette County woman who in January was charged with homicide in connection with a 3 1/2-year-old murder case, only to see the charges dropped, has been arrested again for the same crime.

Crystal Dawn Weimer, 27, of 132 N. Eighth St., Connellsville, was charged Monday with homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

The arrest came just days after an alleged accomplice, Joseph Cyril Stenger, 22, of Everson, entered a guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to commit homicide and agreed to assist prosecutors.

Both Weimer and Stenger are accused of acting with two unidentified black men in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2001, to murder Curtis Haith, then 21, in the back yard of his home at 917 Sycamore St., Connellsville. Haith's body was found shortly before 5 a.m. after neighbors reported to police that someone was screaming for help. He had been severely beaten and shot once in the face.

After an investigation spanning nearly three years, Weimer was arrested in January, based partially on evidence that a bite on Haith's arm matched a dental impression she had given to police. Stenger was arrested a few weeks later. The two unidentified accomplices have not been charged.

In April, Weimer was released from jail after Fayette County Judge Ralph C. Warman ruled that the state had failed to produce enough evidence to establish its case against Weimer.

The charges against Stenger remained intact, however. But last week, Stenger, who is serving a 57-to-114-month sentence for a series of armed robberies, accepted a tentative plea agreement that calls for a nine-to-18-year sentence on the conspiracy to commit homicide charge. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Connellsville and state police arrested Weimer yesterday at the 141 Gibson Terrace, Connellsville, home of her sister. Police said Weimer did not resist.

During her arraignment before Connellsville District Justice Ronald Haggerty Sr., Weimer, her eye blackened from an alleged assault by her boyfriend, repeatedly claimed police unjustly accused her.

When asked by Haggerty if she was enrolled in any treatment programs, Weimer answered, "Just counseling for all this false imprisonment."

Weimer also told Haggerty that she had been attempting to hire an attorney to file a civil suit over her previous arrest but could not name the attorney.

Because bail is not available to a defendant facing a charge of homicide, Weimer was remanded to the county prison. A preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 5 before Bullskin Township District Justice Robert Breakiron.

As she left Haggerty's courtroom yesterday, Weimer said, "I'm innocent. I want the world to know I'm innocent. I told them I'd take a lie-detector test, but they won't let me."

In a related case, a man accused of lying to police after his testimony helped to clear Weimer is contesting perjury charges.

Thomas J. Beal, 37, of Dunbar, was charged with unsworn falsification and obstructing justice after an April 30 hearing had cleared Weimer in the 2001 beating death of Connellsville resident Curtis Haith.

Beal had made a statement to Connellsville police implicating Weimer but later retracted it at an evidentiary hearing for Weimer.

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Murder Case Hinges on a Bite and Lies
April 2006

By Bill Moushey, Bridget DiCosmo and Elizabeth Perry

No one at an early morning party in Uniontown just before Curtis Haith was murdered said Thomas Beal was there, but 10 months later he cut a deal for freedom with prosecutors, stating he saw Crystal Weimer commit the killing, but later recanted.

Two years and seven months after Mr. Beal was discredited and charges were dropped against Ms. Weimer, another two-bit criminal named Joseph Stenger came forward claiming he helped the then 24-year-old woman kill Mr. Haith over a supposed rape, though she denied everything, and his story would change six times.

Armed with those controversial statements and forensic evidence suggesting Ms. Weimer bit the dead man on the hand during an attack, prosecutors quickly re-filed charges against her, which almost five years after Mr. Haith’s death, are expected to be put before a jury beginning Monday.

That is when Ms. Weimer hopes she can prove she had nothing to do with the killing, something she has maintained since police first questioned her the morning after Mr. Haith was found beaten to death and shot in the face.

“Everyone knows I’m innocent,” Ms. Weimer, said in a recent telephone interview from the Fayette County Jail where she has been confined in pre-trial detention for the past 18 months.

Neither Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon nor Ms. Weimer’s attorney or police officials involved in the investigation would comment or answer questions about the five year old case.

As a result, the Innocence Institute of Point Park University, a journalism program where students investigate allegations of wrongful convictions and abuses in the justice system in a partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, pieced together evidence by scrutinizing police reports, court documents, and interviewing anyone that could be found with direct knowledge of the case.

Life has been difficult for Ms. Weimer and her three sisters since their mother lost custody, causing them to be passed through foster homes and facilities during their teenage years.

As she moved into adulthood, Ms. Weimer, 29, was convicted in a string of forgery and retail theft charges starting at the age of 18. While living in a succession of public housing projects, Ms. Weimer produced three children through a relationship that like many others in her life did not endure.

On Friday, January 26, 2001 Ms. Weimer and a dozen or so friends including Mr. Haith drank beer at their mother’s house in Uniontown until about 11:30 p.m. when she decided to ride along with one of the partiers to drive Mr. Haith 12 miles away to Connellsville.

Ms. Weimer and several of the guests said the entire trip took less than an hour, and they returned before 12:30 a.m. On her return, Ms. Weimer said she got into a knock-down, drag-out fight with a jealous boyfriend. By the time it was over, she had bitten her boyfriend on the hand, she suffered a blackened eye and a broken toe, leaving her clothes splattered with blood and mud from the melee.

Down the road in Connellsville, police reports say Mr. Haith partied at a bar until 2:00 a.m., then invited some of the patrons to his nearby apartment. The final couple left Mr. Haith’s about 4:30 a.m. Twenty minutes later, a neighbor called police reporting frantic screams from the dwelling. Police found Mr. Haith beaten to death with a gunshot wound to the face in a lot next to his apartment.

A sweatshirt and bandana were found at the scene, but DNA from them was not matched with Ms. Weimer or anyone else. Initial reports say no murder weapon or other forensic evidence was recovered.

While several individuals told police Mr. Haith’s death might be drug-related, police focused on Ms. Weimer as a suspect because she was with him for part of the last night of his life, because of the injuries she had suffered in the fight with her boyfriend and because police heard rumors that Mr. Haith had assaulted her sexually within the previous year.

Ms. Weimer told police the sexual assault allegation was not true. She denied any involvement and said they were back in Uniontown hours before Mr. Haith was killed. She produced several alibis to prove it, though some of them were relatives.

Nonetheless, police seized her bloody, mud-caked clothing for DNA and other forensic testing. The blood belonged to the boyfriend, who confirmed the fight with Ms. Weimer to police.

Still focused on Ms. Weimer as a suspect despite numerous reports suggesting others may have committed the murder, the investigation languished for almost 10 months until police found Mr. Beal, a jailed ex-boyfriend of Ms. Weimer who was looking for a deal.

Mr. Beal reiterated the rape allegation that Ms. Weimer had already denied and said she confessed the killing to him. He also implicated Ms. Weimer’s other boyfriend who beat her that night.

While Mr. Beal’s story was plausible, they asked the Pennsylvania State Police’s cold case squad for help to examine autopsy photographs for other hints. That’s when a state trooper noticed an apparent bruise on autopsy photographs of Mr. Haith’s hand, concluding it may be a bite mark. A Fayette County dentist made molds of Ms. Weimer’s teeth and compared the marks they made with the photographs on Mr. Haith’s hand, but could not say with scientific certainty the bite came from Ms. Weimer.

Then the photos were sent to a Connecticut based bite mark expert named Dr. Constantine Karazulas, a forensic odontologist. After using Ms. Weimer’s dental mold to create a bruise on his own arm and comparing it with the photographs during a two week process, he concluded Ms. Weimer bit Mr. Haith just before his death.

Dr. George Gould, a forensic odontologist who has worked for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s department and others, did not dispute Dr. Karazulas’ claims, but said in such a case, the entire scientific process rests with the quality of the photographs taken of the injury. With regular crime scene pictures like those taken in Mr. Haith’s murder, he said it may be difficult to distinguish individual teeth impressions or determine the actual time of the injury without biological testing, which was not done in Mr. Haith’s case.

As police were closing in on her, she agreed to take a polygraph, but later refused it on the advice of a lawyer. Shortly thereafter, she was charged with criminal homicide.

At a preliminary hearing, Mr. Beal recanted his story, stating he was pressured by police who gave him freedom from a variety of assault and related charges in exchange for his testimony.

At the end of the hearing, a Fayette County judge declared a lack of evidence, dismissed all charges against Ms. Weimer and released her.

While Ms. Weimer thought the nightmare was over, two days later in October 2004, Mr. Stenger, another jailhouse snitch, told police he was involved in the killing and agreed to testify against Ms. Weimer if he got a deal too. Police granted his wish and re-filed charges against her.

Police reports document six different variations of Mr. Stenger’s story that came from him, his mother and several others.

There was the story from Mr. Stenger, who has an extensive record for robbery and theft, that he helped Mr. Beal and Ms. Weimer commit the murder. Then, he said he only disposed of the gun and clothing. His mother told police he was an innocent bystander who watched, terrified, as Ms. Weimer beat Mr. Haith. Then when police questioned how a diminutive woman like Ms. Weimer could take down the 300-pound Mr. Haith, Mr. Stenger added two more accomplices to the conspiracy. Later Mr. Stenger told his mother the story was a lie. At the hearing, Mr. Stenger suggested he may have shot Mr. Haith accidentally while firing his gun in an effort to stop the attack. More recently, other jailhouse informers say he has bragged about killing Mr. Haith himself and setting up Ms. Weimer.

While Tom Schaffer, defense attorney at the time for Ms. Weimer, argued Mr. Stenger totally lacked credibility, a judge used the report from Dr. Karazulas and Mr. Stenger’s testimony to hold her for trial.

Ms. Weimer remains in disbelief that any credence was put in Mr. Stenger’s testimony. Aside from the questions about his story, he could not identify the type of car used in the murder, the gun he says was tossed into a pond but was never found and his descriptions of the crime contained no mention of any biting or other injuries suffered by Ms. Weimer.

Mr. Stenger also had trouble accounting for his statement that he chatted with Ms. Weimer about the murder the next day at her house at a time when she was already in police custody.

In several telephone conversations from jail, Ms. Weimer said she barely knew the dead man, that he did not rape her, she did not bite him or have anything to do with Mr. Haith’s death.

She says she has numerous alibi witnesses – albeit several from her family – willing to testify she was not in the same town as Mr. Haith when he was murdered.

“I have three precious girls who need me and I’m stuck in this basement for something I didn’t do,” said Ms. Weimer.

In recent months, Ms Weimer said she was offered a sentence of three years in prison if she pleads guilty to a lesser charge and takes responsibility for the crime. She refused because she claims innocence, something she hopes to prove beginning tomorrow.
Trial Reporting

Day One
Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon told a jury yesterday that a bite mark expert will place Crystal Weimer in Connellsville within 15 minutes of the 2001 murder of Curtis Haith, and a witness will testify that he was present when she participated in the slaying.

Questioning the voracity of that evidence during opening arguments in the long-awaited trial, one of Ms. Weimer’s lawyers pleaded with the panel to take in all of the evidence before making a judgment call.

Attorney Jeffrey Whiteko said the entire case hinges on whether the bite mark evidence is scientifically accurate and whether the key government witness who cut a deal for his testimony and has a long record of untruthfulness, is believable.

Mr. Whiteko suggested that the answer in both instances is: “No way!”

On the first day of testimony in the trial, prosecutors presented seven witnesses who described the scene where Mr. Haith was found beaten to death and shot in Connellsville after a night of partying.

Retired Lieutenant Thomas Cesario testified that Ms. Weimer initially told police two different stories about how she came to have a black eye, and muddy, bloody clothing. Her disheveled appearance and lies made her a logical suspect.

During cross examination, Ms. Weimer’s attorney, Mary Speigar failed to point out that the blood was tested and revealed to belong to Ms. Weimer’s boyfriend, Mike Gibson.

While no one directly tied Ms. Weimer to the killing yesterday, a witness who says she confessed to him and a forensic odontologist who says a mark on Mr. Haith’s arm was a bite mark that came from Ms. Weimer, are set to testify today (Tuesday) and Wednesday in the case that is expected to be concluded in less than a week.

Trial Day Two

Inconsistent Witnesses
by Bridget DiCosmo Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Shortly after a jury was admonished by a Fayette County judge to rely on common sense during the trial of accused killer Crystal Weimer, a parade of jailhouse informers led by the state’s star witness who says he was present during the murder of Curtis Haith provided testimony that often defied it. Forensic evidence offered by the prosecution in the form of DNA testing corroborated Ms. Weimer’s story that the blood on her shirt belonged to her boyfriend.

During the second day of trial, the six man, six woman jury not only listened to jailhouse informers– some who hedged, others caught in contradictions or lies — implicate Ms. Weimer in what prosecutors call a retaliation killing.

The element of common sense Judge John Wagner admonished the jury about was tested during the testimony of Joseph Cyril Stenger, 23, of Connellsville, who admitted involvement in the crime and that in exchange for his testimony implicating Ms. Weimer in it received a 9-18 year sentence instead of a possible life term.

Under questioning by Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon, Mr. Stenger said on Jan. 27th 2001, Ms. Weimer picked him up that night around 2 a.m., in a light blue car that matched the description given earlier by a witness who’d seen it outside Mr. Haith’s apartment, looking “beaten up.” While Ms. Weimer told police her boyfriend beat her that night, leaving her with a black eye, broken toe and muddy clothing, Mr. Stenger said it was Mr. Haith who had beaten her.

Mr. Stenger said Ms. Weimer went to Dunbar pick up two black men he didn’t know, then stopped at a trailer in Connellsville to pick up a club and crowbar, and drove to Mr. Haith’s apartment, where Ms. Weimer lured him outside. Then he said the unknown assailants with whom he’d ridden began brutally beating him, while Ms. Weimer screamed and kicked at him as he watched from the car.

Mr. Stenger then testified he pulled his stolen .380 handgun and fired into the fray, hoping to stop the beating.

While he said he did not intend to hurt anyone, the bullet he fired hit Mr. Haith in the face.

On cross examination by Assistant Fayette County Public Defender Jeffrey Whiteko, Mr. Stenger admitted to telling five or six different stories about the incident and that he often lied to police. He said some of the lies he told police stemmed from his fear of retaliation from Ms. Weimer if she found out he was implicating her in the killing.

Among them were Mr. Stenger committing the crime himself, to knowing nothing about it, helping Ms. Weimer cover it up, and helping Ms. Weimer and her ex-boyfriend commit the crime.

He also testified that he told Ms. Weimer to get rid of her clothes and had thrown them and the gun in the river, but the police had already taken Ms. Weimer’s clothing for testing.

Mr. Stenger’s testimony ended when he said that while the whole night was “fuzzy” because he’d been high on cocaine, his “favorite drug,” he remembers firing the gun to stop the beating.

In addition to testimony from Mr. Stenger, there was jailhouse informer Linda Reynolds, in a halfway house for theft by deception, who testified when both of them were in the Fayette County Jail, she witnessed Ms. Weimer crying “bitter tears” while she confessed to beating Mr. Haith in retaliation of his assault of her. Under cross examination, she failed to recall the exact date of the conversation.

Then Carole Harris, another jailhouse witness, testified Ms. Weimer told her she was being railroaded so she persuaded a former boyfriend to lie and corroborate her alibi.

Another jail bird named Jason Mills also testified that he was asked to lie by the Weimer family to provide an alibi and did, which is why his original statement to police corroborated Ms. Weimer’s story.

Robert Mackey, a former boyfriend of Ms. Weimer, testified a guy had beaten her and she intended to kill him.

When Mr. Mackey told the jury his conversation with Ms. Weimer had took place in 2003. “Guess what? He was dead in 2003!” Mr. Whiteko shouted.

A soil expert also testified soil from around Mr. Haith’s residence was consistent with the mud taken from the clothing Ms. Weimer wore the morning after the murder, even though no sample was tested from the area near Ms. Weimer’s home where she said she fell.

In addition to the mud, the clothing taken from Ms. Weimer was stained with splatters of blood, which also brought her under suspicion. When a state crime lab scientist said the DNA matched her former boyfriend and not Mr. Haith, Ms. Weimer, who had known the information for months, raised her arms in victory and sobbed again. The crime lab scientist also excluded Ms. Weimer’s DNA from a bandana and sweatshirt that was found at the crime scene.

On the other hand, a Connellsville police officer testified Ms. Weimer told two different stories about the black eye, broken toe and muddy clothing she had when he visited her less than eight hours after Mr. Haith’s body was found. Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon also challenged the alibi testimony of several witnesses who claimed to have contact with Ms. Weimer at or around the time of the killing a dozen miles away from the Connellsville scene.

Trial Day Three

Case May Boil Down to Two Forensic Experts
April 5, 2006

By Elizabeth Perry and Bridgett DiCosmo

Which bite mark expert a Fayette County jury believes could determine the outcome of the Fayette County murder trial of Crystal Weimer.

The government’s witness used innovative imaging software on autopsy photographs to conclude Ms. Weimer’s teeth made a bite mark found on Curtis Haith’s hand after he was beaten and shot to death in 2001.

The defense expert testified the autopsy photograph of Mr. Haith’s hand was not taken with standard techniques and he “wouldn’t want to hazard a guess” at who bit Mr. Haith or whether it happened on the night of his death.

During the first three days of trial, a six man, six woman jury has listened to witness after witness provide often conflicting testimony over whether Ms. Weimer played a role in the killing of Mr. Haith in retaliation for a beating witnesses say she suffered at his hands.

The jury heard more conflicting testimony from the odontology experts.

The science of odontology is based on use of autopsy photographs, tissue samples and plaster molds to tie specific teeth to specific injuries.

Prosecution witness Dr. Constantine Karazulas, who has a career spanning 40 years and is Chief of Forensic Odontology for the Connecticut Police, said he used a computer program and physical tests to tie Ms. Weimer’s teeth to the marks on Mr. Haith’s arm.

During his testimony he pretended to bite Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon on the hand to demonstrate how the bite might have occurred. He also used a cast of Ms. Weimer’s dental plates to bite his own arm to replicate the injury and reach his conclusion. Dr. Karazulas bit his own arm for the jury to see in order to “show the process of healing.”

Later, Dr. Michael Sobol, Chief of Forensic Odontology for Allegheny County and a highly regarded bite mark expert himself said the mark on Mr. Haith’s hand was of “limited evidentiary value” because of the photo quality, which did not render the image in standard gray scale in order to ensure the color integrity. Dr. Sobol said that when he tested the bite mark against 20 other molds he randomly selected in his office, seven matched as well as the Weimer molds.

After he testified, Dr. Karazulas conceded that two completely different opinions were rendered on the same evidence because of the subjective nature of odontology and the lack of specific research guidelines.

“No validation studies have been completed for which we can set up forensic odontology guidelines everyone can use. That’s why you can’t get two guys to agree on anything.” said Dr. Karazulas.

“Which proves odontology’s not a very good science.” said Dr. Karazulas.

The jury heard testimony from Dr. Kimberly Zaremba-Rabatin, a periodontist who said she examined the pictures of the bruise on Mr. Haith’s hand but could not link it to Ms. Weimer’s teeth, or anyone else.

During Ms. Weimer’s defense, Mary Spegar, an Assistant Fayette County Public Defender, first put one of Ms. Weimer’s former boyfriends on the stand who said he, not Mr. Haith caused the black eye and broken toe police found on Ms. Weimer when they questioned her the morning after Mr. Haith’s body was found outside his Connellsville apartment.

Michael Gibson testified Ms. Weimer bit his thumb in a drunken, jealous rage for dancing with her cousin at a Uniontown party. “I was forced to hit the girl,” he said.

Another witness corroborated this story, but neither could agree on the exact time Ms. Weimer was at the party, when she left or when they left.

Prosecutors have conceded she was with a large group of partiers part of the night, but argue she has no alibi for the time Mr. Haith was killed.

Anthony Williams, an imprisoned burglar and self-styled jailhouse lawyer, testified Joseph Stenger, who got a deal for testifying earlier in the trial that he was present with Ms. Weimer during the murder, told him Ms. Weimer was not involved in the killing, but that he was implicating her to cement his deal.

When Ms. Vernon asked him if he too had been offered a deal for quick freedom for his testimony in the case by her office, Mr. Williams cut her off.

“I’m not going to answer it. You all know that you don’t want the truth, all you want are lies,” he said. Mr. Williams refused to answer any more of the District Attorney’s questions and was dismissed.

Corporal Beverly Ashton of the Pennsylvania State Police testified about her portion of the investigation, and the efforts to find clothing and a gun used in the murder that the star eye-witness, Mr. Stenger said he dumped.

Mr. Stenger testified he threw clothes and a gun used in the murder into the Youghiogheny River even though the clothes Ms. Weimer wore the night Mr. Haith was killed were turned over to police the day after the murder. Ms. Ashton said a search conducted three years later yielded nothing.

On cross-examination, Corporal Ashton said Mr. Stenger also indicated he might have thrown the clothing and gun into an area pond. Nothing was found after it was drained.

Trial Day Four

April 6, 2006

By Bridget DiCosmo and Elizabeth Perry Innocence Institute of Point Park University

A Fayette County jury listened yesterday to testimony from Crystal Dawn Weimer, accused mastermind of the 2001 murder of a 21-year-old man, then spent two hours of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

This morning, the six-man, six-woman panel will continue to try to decide whether the 28-year-old mother of three is guilty of conspiring with others to beat and shoot Curtis Haith to death outside his Connellsville apartment.

On the stand during the fourth and final day of testimony, Ms.Weimer denied having anything to do with the killing, claiming a string of jailhouse snitches and others who implicated her in the matter were lying for deals. She denied having any personal disagreements with Mr. Haith and she denied biting him before his murder as one forensic odontologist suggested during the trial.

Under questioning by Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon, Ms. Weimer also denied giving conflicting accounts to police who found her the morning after Mr. Haith’s death with a black eye, broken toe and muddy clothing splattered with blood, despite being confronted with the police reports.

During the trial, her former boyfriend said he inflicted the injuries on her that night during a drunken fight in Uniontown, about 12 miles from where Mr. Haith was found. DNA tests showed the blood on Ms. Weimer’s clothing came from the boyfriend.

Asked pointedly if she participated in the crime, Ms. Weimer said: “Never.”

Ms. Vernon queried her about several crimes she has faced in the past that involved falsehoods.

“I know I’ve done stuff in my past, but I didn’t do this,” Weimer said, moaning and sobbing when her prior convictions for a variety of misdemeanor offenses were brought up.

During closing arguments, Ms. Vernon ticked off on her hand the number of blows Mr. Haith suffered before he died and appealed to the jury to render justice for a young man murdered in the prime of his life.

Calling Ms. Weimer “a fighter, biter, a talker and a crier,” Ms. Vernon urged the jury not to “let the person who planned this walk.”

Assistant Public Defender Mary Spegar asked the jury to acquit Ms. Weimer because all of the witnesses against her only testified for deals, and among other things because experts did not agree on bite mark identifications that implicated Ms. Weimer.

“I submit to you if there has ever been reasonable doubt in a case, this is the case,” she said.

Fayette County Common Pleas Judge John Wagner said deliberations will begin again at 9 a.m. today.


April 7, 2006

By Elizabeth Perry and Bridget DiCosmo Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Earlier this year, Crystal Dawn Weimer turned down a deal for as little as two years in prison if she admitted her role and cooperated in the Curtis Haith murder case.

Now she faces a 20-40 year sentence over a third degree murder conviction handed down yesterday in the 2001 slaying.

After eight hours of deliberation over two days, a six-man, six-woman jury returned the verdict as Ms. Weimer flung herself backward in her chair and wailed, then pointed to Connellsville Police Detective Ronald Haggerty Jr., lead detective, and said, “He did it.”

Fayette County District Attorney Nancy Vernon, tried the case that has remained unsolved since the 21-year-old Mr. Haith was found beaten and shot outside his Connellsville apartment in January 2001.

The case was mired by witnesses with criminal records trying to earn favor with prosecutors whose voracity was repeatedly challenged. There was also a dispute from two forensic odontologists about whether a bite mark on Mr. Haith’s arm came from Ms. Weimer.

But to Ms. Vernon, the case turned on Ms. Weimer’s statements and courtroom demeanor.

“I knew she’d convict herself.” said Ms.Vernon,

Ms. Vernon confirmed she offered Ms. Weimer a two-to-four year sentence if she accepted responsibility for her role in the killing and named her alleged co-conspirators. Since she would not cooperate, Ms. Vernon said the blood evidence collected in the case has been submitted to a national DNA database.

Jury Foreman Chris Yeager agreed with the prosecutor, saying the 29-year-old mother of three disgusted the jury by frequently mouthing the words “I’m innocent” to them in the face of what the jury believed was strong eyewitness testimony. Mr. Yeager also felt Ms. Weimer’s periodic emotional outbursts seemed contrived to himself and the rest of the jury.

Mr. Yeager said the panel disregarded the testimony of the bite mark experts because the two experts could not agree.

He said the jury was swayed by the testimony of Joseph Stenger, Ms. Weimer’s co-defendant, who testified under a deal that he was with her and two unknown black males when they beat and killed Mr. Haith in retaliation for an assault on Ms. Weimer.

After the jury rendered its verdict, Mr. Haith’s mother wept softly and refused comment while his cousin, Jaimie Polk wept tears of joy, looked up and raised her hands towards the sky.

Mr. Haith’s sister, Michelle, 28, described her deceased brother as gentle and protective of his siblings: “I prayed to God every night that she’d be found guilty,” said Ms. Haith.

Across the room, Colletta Weimer, the defendant’s sister, sobbed, “I love you, Crystal, ” crying so hysterically that court personnel removed her from the room.

While Ms. Weimer’s conviction temporarily puts an end to another element of this long-running drama, Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Beverly Ashton said the investigation “absolutely won’t be done” until the two alleged accomplices responsible for Curtis Haith’s murder have been found and convicted.

The Sentencing of Crystal Dawn Weimer

Crystal Dawn Weimer, 28, was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison on April 20, 2006.

Weimer, of Connellsville, again proclaimed her innocence in the January 2001 death of Curtis Haith, 21, as she has since her arrest.
Weimer Loses Appeal
November 3, 2009

More than two years after Crystal Weimer appealed her conviction, the PA Supreme Court affirmed her sentence in a six page opinion last week.

By Marie Do Rego Innocence Institute of Point Park University

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Crystal Weimer’s appeal last week, solidifying her 14 and-a-half to 30-year sentence for the 2001 murder of Curtis Haith. Weimer appealed her sentence after a jury found her guilty of third degree murder and criminal conspiracy at the conclusion of a 3-day trial beset by contradictory eyewitness testimony and questionable forensic evidence. For the past eight years, Weimer has claimed innocence, insisting she wasn’t present when two men beat and shot Haith.

When Weimer filed the appeal in May of 2007, she argued that the conspiracy charge was based on insufficient evidence. The court dismissed this claim as “meritless.”  It did grant an appeal, however, on the question: “Is it possible, as a matter of law, for a person to be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the third degree?” In a six page opinion, the Court said it is possible.

Relying heavily on past opinions, Pennsylvania’s highest court reasoned that if the victim’s death is a “natural and probable consequence of a co-conspirator’s conduct,” a conspiracy charge is appropriate. The September 9, 2009 opinion also stated that a conspiracy can occur regardless of the murder charge’s severity.

A representative from the Fayette County DA’s office could not be reached for comment.

In a telephone interview with the Innocence Institute, Weimer says she discovered the outcome of her appeal by reading it in the paper. “It’s devastating,” she says. “I just can’t believe that our [justice] system won’t stand up for truth.”

Weimer has been appointed a new attorney and has filed another appeal.

Read the Innocence Institute’s previous investigations into Weimer’s innocence claim
December 2, 2011
PCRA Hearing
By Leah Welch and Paige Krivda

Crystal Dawn Weimer’s PCRA hearing in Fayette County will have a second act as Judge Wagner how allowed her 45 days to review her 2001 court transcripts.

“[I'm] trying to get it form being remanded again,” Judge Wagner told the court Wednesday in response to his decision allowing Weimer time to read the transcripts to review improper closing arguments.

Wagner also allowed Weimer to go through 16 separate issues of which Weimer focused on insufficient evidence, unreliable witnesses, and actual innocence, “I just want the truth to come forth. I’ve been ripped from my life.”

Forensic evidence in the form of bite marks, and false eyewitness testimony from Joseph Stenger were used as the Commonwealth’s platform in building a case against Weimer in the homicide of Curtis Haith. Weimer was charged with conspiracy to murder in the 3rd degree and has served eight of her 25 years in Cambridge Springs Prison.

“…the pathologist stated it was a bruise, an abrasion… I never bit the kid that got killed,” Weimer said. Despite such relevant forensic evidence, Weimer’s attorney Mark Mehalov focused on ineffective council from Weimer’s initial attorney, Mary Speiger.

When Speigar was asked why she didn’t object to the judge giving the jury instruction on how 3rd degree murder and criminal conspiracy were defined, she said, “I don’t know what my thoughts were… [the] judge instructed jury of the law…”

While on the witness stand, Weimer gave broken responses when she addressed the issue of her actual innocence, “I wasn’t there. I didn’t know about it. I could have taken 2-4 years. I could have been out four years ago; I’ve been in here eight years!”

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