Hearing held for four in double homicide

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2000

Public defender Stephen R.

Friday, November 03, 2000

Public defender Stephen R. Erickson today attempted to plant a seed of doubt in the mind of District Judge Donald E. Rysavy that the role his client, Jenea Larae-Nichole Weinand, had in a double homicide was as large as investigators say it was.

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An omnibus hearing for four defendants in the killings of two men and the wounding of a third began this morning.

Rysavy said Weinand’s hearing would be held first followed later today by hearings for Vernon Neal Powers, 26, Scott Perry Christian, 29, and David Kenneth Christian, 28.

All were indicted by a Mower County grand jury in August with four counts of first-degree premeditated and felony murder.

A fifth defendant, arrested in connection with the case, Janet Hall, 18, had charges dismissed because of a lack of evidence of active participation in the murders. Hall remains a material witness for the prosecution in the case.

Juan Ramirez and Raul Guiterrez were shot to death in the early morning hours of June 30 at the Downtown Motel in Austin. Jorge Ramirez was wounded, but survived the shooting.

Police theorized the victims, all St. Paul roofers staying at the motel, were targeted after one of them flashed a large amount of money he kept on his person wrapped in a bandana. The money was shown to Weinand, when the man paid for sex from the woman shortly before the robbery and shootings occurred.

A woman, authorities say it was Weinand, knocked on the door where the man and his companions were staying and stepped aside as two gunmen burst in the room demanding money.

The money never was taken by the robbers, who returned to their homes in the Twin Cities, where they subsequently were arrested and returned to Austin.

In court today, state Assistant Attorney General William Klump and Mower County Attorney Patrick A. Oman called Mark Kempe, a St. Paul Police Department sergeant and homicide investigator, to the witness stand.

Between 10 and 20 percent of Kempe’s interview with Weinand early July 1 was lost when tape recording equipment malfunctioned, according to Kempe’s testimony.

Weinand’s defense attorney, Erickson of Albert Lea, was able to elicit from Kempe’s recollection of the lost minutes of the interview that it was when Weinand suggested it was Hall, not her, who went to the Downtown Motel room door to get the targeted victims to open the door.

Also, Kempe admitted under questioning by Erickson, Weinand thought he was an attorney.

"You had to straighten her out, didn’t you, and tell her you were a police officer?" Erickson asked.

"Yes," Kempe answered.