MUSCATINE — Day three of testimony continued Thursday in the murder trial of Annette D. Cahill with her attorneys asking for an acquittal.
"The state has failed to meet it's burden as to the first element of murder in the first degree and a necessary element of all lesser included offenses, namely that on or about the 13th day of October 1992, Annette D. Cahill struck Corey Wieneke," said Cahill's attorney Clemens Erdahl.
The case is being tried in Muscatine County Court where Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Patrick McElyea said testimony and evidence provided so far have generated questions for the jury to decide rather than the judge himself.
Last May, Cahill, 56, was charged with first-degree murder in the 1992 bludgeoning death of 22-year old Corey Lee Wieneke.
Cahill, then Annette McCrabb, had a sexual relationship with Wieneke, and the two argued the night before his death about his involvement with another woman. Cahill was one of the last people to see Wieneke alive, according to testimony from law enforcement.
Through testimony from law enforcement, the prosecution argued Cahill killed Wieneke in a crime of passion with an aluminum baseball bat in his rural home near West Liberty.
Cahill's attorneys argued the state hasn't provided sufficient evidence that Cahill killed Wieneke.
"The state has admitted there is no physical evidence linking the defendant to the scene of the crime — no fingerprints, no blood, no DNA," said Clemens Erdahl. "There is no evidence whatsoever, circumstantial or otherwise, showing that Annette struck Corey Wieneke."
The case went "cold" or less active for a number of years before a woman approached an agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) about what she heard on a rainy night in 1992.
Jessie Becker testified Thursday that she was 9 years old in 1992 and close friends with Cahill's niece, both of them living in West Liberty. She and another friend would frequently have sleepovers and Cahill would rent the girls scary movies — she was "the cool aunt."
Becker, a charge nurse in the intensive care unit in Iowa City and commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, grew up around Wieneke as his family lived just down the street in West Liberty.
"Corey spoiled us," she said of his treatment of her and her younger brother. "He was like a big brother."
She said hearing the news of Wieneke's death was terrifying. Becker recalled another moment that scared her later that year in her testimony.
"I was terrified that she was going to turn around and see us," she said referring to the moment she and Cahill's niece heard Cahill sobbing and confess to killing Wieneke.
Becker said Cahill was lighting black candles and saying she was sorry she hurt Corey, sorry she killed him. Becker said she told her mother about what she witnessed, and her mother corroborated the story Thursday in testimony.
"There's no better evidence than a confession," Iowa DCI Agent Jon Turbett testified. Turbett confirmed in his testimony DNA evidence from Cahill had not been found at the scene of the crime nor any fingerprints at the scene or on the murder weapon.
But, he said, the investigation showed there were only three people at Wieneke's home before he died — Wieneke's fiancee, Cahill's sister-in law and friend Jackie Hazen and Cahill herself.
The trial is expected to continue Monday.