BLIEFNICK TRIAL: Opening statements and first witnesses for the prosecution
QUINCY — Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones painted a picture of the last moments of Becky Bliefnick’s life, describing fear, panic and death and accusing Tim Bliefnick of shooting her 14 times.
Jones presented the prosecution’s opening statements before a jury of six men and six women Tuesday morning.
Jones described the crime scene, alleging Tim Bliefnick did not commit “the perfect crime” and 27 shell casings in his home matched eight shell casings found beside Becky Bliefnick’s body on Feb. 23.
Tim Bliefnick’s attorney, Casey Schnack, used her opening statement to call Jones’s statement “a good story, but that doesn’t make it evidence or true” and the evidence will come from the witness stand so the jury can determine what is true and what isn’t true.
“This case is dripping with reasonable doubt,” Schnack said, but saying that didn’t include fingerprints or DNA on a bicycle that was allegedly used to transport someone to Becky Bliefnick’s house to kill her.
Jones discussed neighborhood videos that show someone bike riding in the area between Tim Bliefnick’s house and Becky Bliefnick’s house in the days leading up to Becky’s murder. He was also looking up license plate reports as Becky was seeing a man named Ted Johnson and Tim was allegedly looking him up.
Jones said the same bike rider was following the same route to and away from Kentucky Road during the timeframe of Becky’s murder. Jones admits you can’t tell who is riding the bike in the video, but it was found a half block from Tim Bliefnick’s home.
The prosecution alleges Tim Bliefnick planned and plotted the murder of his wife, saying the accused’s Internet search history included how to use a crowbar, how to make a homemade silencer (using grocery bags), Quincy Police Department response times, how to open a window from the outside, using a crowbar to open doors and windows and how to wash gunpowder off your hands.
As Jones began to present the outline of his case to the jury, Schnack objected when Bliefnick’s Internet search history was mentioned. Adrian called the attorneys into his chambers and overruled her objection when they returned.
Schnack said the crowbar evidence is inconclusive as is a footprint on the carpet left in Becky’s home and said no other suspect was even considered because the state said Tim had motive due to a contentious divorce. She said the Aldi bags at Tim’s house don’t match the fibers from bags left at the murder scene.
Jones also brought up the contentious divorce of the Bliefnick’s.
“The defendant described it at one point as ‘brutal’,” Jones said. “They didn’t agree on anything. They didn’t agree on custody of the children, parenting time. They didn’t agree on how much child support the defendant should pay. They didn’t agree on how much maintenance, spousal support, the defendant should pay to Becky. They didn’t agree on the assets from the marriage. Becky believed that the defendant was hiding money. They didn’t agree on the defendant’s father. Becky didn’t want their children to be around the defendant’s father unsupervised. They didn’t agree on that either.”
Jones said Becky Bliefnick had purchased 9mm firearm while the two were married.
“She (Becky) wanted that gun back,” Jones said. She told her attorney she wanted it back because she was scared. Because she felt like she needed protection. Protection from the defendant. They didn’t agree about that gun either.”
Schnack responded that she had been involved with hundreds of divorces as an attorney, and there were no good ones.
“Statistically speaking, 50 percent of us in this room have been divorced,” Schnack said. “But getting divorced is not an element of murder. People are not always at their best when going through divorce.”
Becky Bliefnick’s father, Bill Postle, was the prosecution’s first witness. He found his daughter’s body in the early afternoon of Feb. 23.
Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck questioned Postle about a text he received from Tim Bliefnick on the day of Becky’s death. In a text, Tim Bliefnick wrote to Postle and said he hadn’t heard from Becky and was wondering who was going to pick up the boys. Tim said Becky had told him she was sick before she supposedly didn’t respond to Tim.
That’s when Postle decided to go check on his daughter.
Postle said he went to the Kentucky Road house, found the front door wide open and Becky’s car in the garage. After walking through the bedroom, he found Becky’s body on the bathroom floor.
“She looked like she was dead,” he said. “Rigor mortis had already set in.”
The jury then saw Becky’s body on the projector screen for the first time. There were open mouths and wide eyes among the jurors.
Postle then testified he had forgotten his phone, so he couldn’t call 9-1-1.
Rolla Wike, a neighbor of Becky Bliefnick, is the next witness. That’s who Postle contacted to make a call as Postle didn’t have his cell phone.
Wike said Postle said “I need to use your phone to call 911 because Becky is dead.”
Wike offered to go pick up Postle’s wife, Bernadette. Postle gave her directions to their house and she picked her up.
Schnack then asked Wike if she heard anything at the house on the night of Becky’s murder and she said she hadn’t. She also said she heard Tim sound surprised on the phone with Bernie and said “WHAT?” when she called him to tell him Becky was dead.
Roberta Hutson, secretary at St. Peter School, then testified that she didn’t call Tim Bliefnick about the children, but he called the school to say he couldn’t contact Becky, so he would pick them up instead of walking home. She said neither of the Bliefnick’s had ever called to make arrangements for picking up the boys. She said Tim arrived at St. Peter an hour before dismissal and waited for the boys so they would not walk home.
After seeing the video of Bliefnick’s car in the parking lot, Schnack asked Hutson about the school policy of picking up kids in a timely manner.
“If parents have issues picking up kids, don’t you appreciate parents calling ahead,” she asked.
Hutson said “yes”, but Jones crosses with asking if Tim Bliefnick had ever called to make arrangements regarding the boys before Feb. 23 and she said “no”.
More neighbors of Becky Bliefnick’s then testified.
Brian Lash, who lives across Kentucky Road from Becky Bliefnick, said he noticed her front door was left open at 5:30 a.m. on Feb 23 before he left for work, but that he had heard no disturbance overnight.
Amy Schmiedeskamp, another Kentucky Road resident, said she is Ray Bliefnick’s neighbor. Ray is Tim’s father and said it’s been a long time since she had seen the Bliefnick children at their grandfather’s house, despite living just a few houses down. Schmiedeskamp said she did not see Tim Bliefnick or hear any disturbances on the night of Becky’s death.
Cecelia and Brandon Gervais, friends of Becky’s who live in St. Peters, Missouri, testify Becky stayed with them Sunday before she was having a medical procedure done. Cecelia took Becky to her surgery on the Monday before she was killed. She stayed with them Monday night as well. Brandon drove Becky back to Quincy on Tuesday.
That ended the morning session and court resumed at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
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