FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Richard Niemeyer will be in court again Thursday where a date is expected to be set for his second trial. He’s accused of killing Kevin Weisenburger in May 1993.
“In my heart I know they’re accusing the wrong man. Someone did it, but it wasn’t him. I’m sure of it. I’m certain of it,” Margaret Prichard said.
When police reopened the cold case two years ago, two pieces of evidence at the scene, a cigarette butt and a dirty towel, came back with DNA matches to Niemeyer. Niemeyer’s DNA was in a national database from when he was incarcerated in 1996 for a drunk driving charge.
Based on that DNA evidence, Niemeyer was arrested in 2015 and charged with Weisenburger’s murder. In the trial, Niemeyer’s attorney questioned the accuracy of the DNA testing and argued that wasn’t enough to convict a man of murder.
“If he really had been there someone would have known him, someone would have recognized him,” Jennifer Jennings said. “They don’t have fingerprints. They don’t have witnesses. So, even if they were to convict him, is the family going to feel like they got justice? There’s still going to be that question in their mind because there’s no 100 percent proof this is the right person. To me there’s very little evidence.”
Margaret and Max Prichard and Jennifer Jennings have all been good friends of Niemeyer’s for years. They told NewsChannel 15 that they were told eight of the jurors had ‘not guilty’ verdicts, three jurors were on the fence and one was convinced Niemeyer was guilty.
“Someone did it, but it wasn’t him. I’m sure of it. I’m certain of it.” – Margaret Prichard, Richard Niemeyer’s friend
“In my mind, there wasn’t any way any of those jurors could have felt 100 percent he was guilty. There was just not enough there,” Jennings said.
They’ve known Niemeyer as a man who loves to fish, is good with kids, and they described him as gentle, caring and trustworthy.
“What he’s being accused of and the man I know are two different people. You don’t know him. I do. He’s a kind person. There’s no way that he would do such a thing. People couldn’t change that much,” Prichard said.
Niemeyer’s stayed close with his friends and families with dozens of letters written back and forth from the jail. In one, he said he felt like he was breaking apart, writing, “and not knowing if I’ll ever be able to hold or hug the people who mean the most to me is tearing me up inside.”
“He’s just a selfless person, thinking of everyone on the outside more than himself,” Jennings said.
Prichard said that should be an example of why she’s sure Niemeyer is innocent.
“No hardened person would care that much. They’d be worried about themselves, not those who are suffering along with him,” she said.
Allen County prosecutors declined to comment while the case is still ongoing. Weisenburger’s family also declined an interview until the second trial is over. Wednesday would have been Weisenburger’s 54th birthday.