A grandmother from Iowa risks being tried for murder in a case based largely on a child's testimony

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By Associated press

IOWA CITY – A grandmother from Iowa will be tried on Monday for the murder of her former boyfriend in 1992, in a case largely based on alleged confessions heard by a child.

The trial will test the prosecutors' ability to obtain a conviction in a case in which they have no material evidence against Annette Cahill. Instead, the result could depend on the jurors' decision to believe a woman who says she is 9 years old when she heard Cahill confess to having confessed to killing bartender Corey Wieneke a few weeks after the murder.

Cahill pleaded not guilty to first degree murder following the death of 22-year-old Wieneke whose body was found at her home in West Liberty in October 1992. If she is found guilty, she faces life imprisonment.

Cahill, 56, is an unusual accused. She has no criminal background and has long been pursuing her work at the Police Law Institute, an Iowa-based company that helps train police officers across the country, while waiting for police officers. To be judged. She said that Wieneke was her best friend and that she was not involved in her death, which devastated her. Many of her friends and family, who praise her cooking and quilting skills, say she is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Annette Cahill at her home in Tipton, Iowa, in December 2018.Courtesy of LeAnn McCrabb via AP file

But the prosecution should argue that several decades ago, Cahill was a different person and was part of a bitter party group in the small town whose lifestyle included sexual affairs, drugs and alcohol. It is expected that they will claim that she killed Wieneke in a rage over the engagement of the former high school football player with another woman, Jody Hotz.

"It was a big young man," said Father James Wieneke, who intends to appear at the trial in Muscatine.

Cahill was a divorced mother of two who had sex with Wieneke, who kept a bar at her grandmother's tavern. The investigators said that the two men discussed their relationship and betrothal in early October 13, 1992.

Hotz told the police that Wieneke had gone home and was sleeping when she went to work that morning. She called 911 to report finding her cold, bloody body on the floor of the room after her return that night. The investigators then found a baseball bat on a nearby road that they considered the murder weapon. But they have not found DNA evidence or fingerprints against Cahill from the beginning or not.

Cahill was a suspect because she was one of the last people to have seen Wieneke alive. Her lawyers say that she has always cooperated and that she has been questioned voluntarily several times. After the case became cold, Cahill moved to the nearby town of Tipton, remarried and had another child and grandchildren. In 2009, she began working in customer service at the Police Law Institute, which provides ongoing training to 10,000 agents per month. His boss, David Oliver, says that she is passionate about maintaining order and by a "very favorable application to the law".

The Criminal Investigations Division reopened the Wieneke case after an officer received information from a woman while she was working in an unrelated case in 2017. The woman, 36 , told the police that she was 9 years old in 1992 and that she had been visiting a childhood friend, Cahill's niece. One night, she says she saw Cahill pacing, lighting candles and making incriminating statements about the murder of Wieneke.

The woman's mother should testify that her daughter had told her about her confession.

Cahill's lawyers should tackle their claims of animosity. Cahill had an affair in 1991 with the girl's father-in-law, which contributed to the end of her mother's marriage, they say. A child memory expert hired by the defense described the testimony as "extremely questionable".

Cahill was arrested last May and jailed for months for a $ 1 million bail. A judge let her out for electronic surveillance in September.

Since then, the authorities have disavowed one of the main claims of the criminal complaint: Cahill knew that Wieneke had been killed by a stick before this information was made public. This statement was wrong, they say.

The defense lawyer, Clemens Erdahl, was troubled by the fact that this allegation had been made publicly without any evidence. He argued that the record of the prosecution is weak.

"It has been very difficult for her and her family, in terms of the costs associated with challenging a case of this magnitude," he said about Cahill.

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