Decision to have Tim Bliefnick take stand in own trial to be announced Wednesday morning
QUINCY — No evidence will be presented, and only one witness could be called Wednesday morning by defense attorney Casey Schnack in the Tim Bliefnick trial.
The decision to have Tim testify in his own trial won’t be made public until both sides return to Adams County Circuit Court at 8:45 a.m.
Tim Bliefnick is accused of shooting his estranged wife, Becky Bliefnick, multiple times at her Kentucky Road home on Feb. 23. Tim was arrested on March 13 and later charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion. He remains in the Adams County Jail without bond.
After Judge Robert Adrian denied a motion by Schnack for a directed verdict, he asked if Tim had decided if he’s going to testify.
“Not a firm decision yet, your honor,” Schnack replied.
Adrian then asked if Tim understood he had a right to remain silent and his decision to testify is his alone.
“I do,” he replied.
Adrian then asked Schnack if she planned to present evidence on Wednesday.
“No, your honor,” she replied.
“What we will need to do is the jury comes in tomorrow, you will make your final decision, then before the jury comes in (to the courtroom), I’m going to ask whether or not your client has decided whether or not to testify,” Adrian said.
“If the defendant decides not to testify, then we are finished with the evidence. The court will take a break at that point, and we will go into final arguments then (Wednesday) morning. If the defendant does testify, or the defendant makes a decision to present some other evidence, then we’ll just have to play it by ear.”
Det. Nick Eddy with the Quincy Police Department was the last witness for the prosecution, spending approximately 75 minutes on the stand. After Eddy’s testimony was complete, Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said all of his evidence has been introduced.
“The people would rest,” he said.
Judge Robert Adrian then excused the six-man, six-woman jury for the rest of the day, and a 15-minute break was called. When Adrian returned to the courtroom, Schnack made a motion asking for a directed verdict — a ruling entered by a judge after determining no legally sufficient evidentiary basis exists for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion.
“In order to sustain a guilty verdict, our jurors are going to have to believe that Tim left a 12-year-old, 10-year-old and 5-year-old home alone, got on a bike, rode his bike from 1641 Hampshire to 24th and Kentucky Road, murdered Becky and rode back home,” she said. “That theory is not supported by the evidence.”
Schnack said witnesses have testified “ad nauseam” that nothing is known about the person on the videos watched earlier by the jury, who saw:
- Someone riding a bicycle on 20th Street near the Quincy Public Schools Bus Barn;
- Someone riding a bicycle south on 20th Street before turning east on Prairie Avenue; and
- Someone walking near the home of Taylor Heimann (Becky’s next-door neighbor).
All videos were recorded on the overnight hours of Feb. 14, Feb. 21, Feb. 22 and Feb. 23. Not every camera recorded someone every night.
“We don’t know their age, we don’t know their race, we don’t know their gender, we don’t know where they’re coming from,” Schnack said. “We don’t know where they’re going to, and we don’t even know that this is the same person on each one of these videos. That hasn’t been disputed.”
Schnack then disputed the evidence surrounding the bicycle found behind a garage on 18th Street four days after Becky’s murder. She said the Illinois State Police Crime Lab could not find evidence tying the handlebars to Tim.
“This appears to be a random bike that was abandoned or left outside of a garage on 18th Street that has no associations to Tim,” she said. “Certainly no associations that can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s guilty.”
She also said the lab results regarding a crowbar and multi tool were inconclusive or excluded Tim completely. The shoe print found near the window in the upstairs bedroom in Becky’s home on Kentucky Road could not be linked to the one pair of Tim’s shoes that was sent to the crime lab.
Schnack said the shell casings found in Tim’s and Becky’s home have no DNA or fingerprints on them connecting Tim to the shooting. Also, police have not recovered the gun used in the shooting.
“Your Honor, if you look at this case as a whole, it sounds great,” Schnack said. “We have video, but you can’t see who’s in the video. We have a bike, but his DNA isn’t on the bike. We have a footprint, but the footprint excludes Tim.”
Jones said he thought it was “clear” enough evidence existed for the jury to conclude “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Tim murdered Becky.
“We certainly have to look at each piece of evidence, not as an individual piece of evidence but as part of the whole,” he said. “Making the court look at the evidence as part of the whole, we’ll see the WHOOP data, the video and the correlation between the two. We have the bike. Yes, it doesn’t have the defendant’s fingerprints or DNA on it, but it’s on his phone. We have (Mike) Blaesing. He says he sold (the bike) to a tall, athletic, white individual. We have all these pieces of evidence that as a whole paints a picture.”
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