Court sets hearing for temporary restraining order regarding Bliefnick assets in probate case

Timothy Bliefnick speaks with defense attorney Casey Schnack ahead of Friday's arraignment hearing.

Tim Bliefnick, shown here during his arraignment on March 24, appeared via Zoom today in a separate civil case dealing with the status of his estate while he is incarcerated. MRN File Photo

QUINCY — Adams County Circuit Court Judge Scott Larson has set a hearing for April 11 regarding a temporary restraining order filed against the estate of Tim Bliefnick.

Attorneys Gerald Timmerwilke and Erin Wilson-Laegeler representing the estate of the late Rebecca Bliefnick entered the order to freeze Tim Bliefnick’s assets on March 20, and Judge Robert Adrian agreed. Rebecca and Tim Bliefnick had been in the process of getting a divorce for nearly two years before she was found dead in her Kentucky Road home on Feb. 23.

Tim Bliefnick was charged March 13 with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with Rebecca’s death. He is being held in the Adams County Jail without bond. He appeared in court on Monday via Zoom. A virus in the jail has some sections currently quarantined, according to the Adams County Health Department.

Larson was assigned the case on Friday, March 31 after Adrian recused himself from the probate case. Adrian is presiding over Bliefnick’s murder trial. The parties were notified of today’s hearing late Friday afternoon.

Schnack appeared in court this morning, although his law firm has not yet been retained to handle the civil case. Casey Schnack of Schnack Law Office is representing Tim Bliefnick in his criminal case.

Schnack said Bliefnick doesn’t have any more funds to pay his firm for any further defense in either case because his assets are frozen. Schnack said Bliefnick’s father, Raymond, has paid the retainer for representation in the criminal case.

“He doesn’t have $100 to pay for subpoenas,” Schnack said. “We don’t have money to pay for private investigators. I’m talking hundreds of dollars. We’re seven weeks away from a murder trial, and we don’t even have a grand jury transcript yet.”

Schnack also referred to a GoFundMe account, set up for the benefit of the three Bliefnick children, that now has nearly $100,000 in it. The fund was set up by Rebecca Bliefnick’s sister to pay for expenses related to her death, a scholarship fund and future care for the boys.

Schnack wasn’t intimating that the GoFundMe money should go to Bliefnick’s defense, but used that as an example of an asset that also should be frozen along with the rest of the co-mingled Bliefnick estate. The divorce was not yet final at the time of Rebecca Bliefnick’s death.

“Are we going to freeze that (the GoFundMe account) since everything else is frozen?” Schnack asked. “There are tax returns, and those should be escrowed, the house, both of their retirement plans.”

Timmerwilke’s office asked Schnack Law Office late Friday how much money was needed to pay for bills associated with Bliefnick’s overall legal fees. Schnack said he wasn’t going to give a specific amount, because if Bliefnick’s assets are released, the Adams County State’s Attorney’s office could use the information in its prosecution of Bliefnick.

Schnack agreed with all of the assets being tied up because of the murder case, but he added, “At least give him the money to defend himself. There are so many ramifications without Tim even being in the court it’s not even funny.”

Larson allowed Schnack to argue, then asked Bliefnick if he planned to use Schnack Law Office in both cases. He said he was, saying he needed to discuss with someone the possibility of borrowing money for his legal fees.

“I’m allowing you to argue, even though you’re not on the case,” Larson told Schnack. “This is an immediate but temporary situation.”

“I believe (Bliefnick) has the right to remain silent, one of the few rights he has been offered,” Schnack said.

He also said that in his 40-plus years of practice, he has never heard of someone being held without bond in Adams County, including James Earl Ray’s brother, Larry Earl Ray, who robbed a string of local banks as part of his long criminal record.

James Earl Ray died in prison while serving a life sentence for the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

Looking at a conundrum of how to proceed with freeing the assets to defend Tim Bliefnick but not provide ammunition for the prosecution, an exasperated Schnack asked, “How do I do this, Judge?”

“You experienced attorneys can figure this out,” Larson said, referring to Schnack and Timmerwilke, two veteran Quincy lawyers.

Schnack asked a follow-up question. “Can we just have a hearing on the TRO?” he said.

“I think it’s a good idea to set the TRO hearing,” Larson said. “I’ll be entertaining motions for temporary funds to hire counsel, and if wants to file this under seal, he can.”

Schnack said his firm was willing to represent Bliefnick in both cases for now and figure out the finances later. He asked if Bliefnick could make a non-collect call to the Schnack Law Office from the jail. Larson agreed.

The hearing on the TRO and the motion to consolidate the probate and divorce cases is set for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11. Bliefnick also has a notice to appear for his murder case at 11 a.m. that day, followed by a status hearing at noon on Wednesday, April 12. A motion hearing set for April 20 begins at 8:30 a.m. and is expected to take most of the day.

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