Photo by Robert K. Yosay
Opening statements and testimony will begin Wednesday after jurors travel by bus to Newton Falls to see the home where Claudia Hoerig is accused of killing her husband, Karl, March 12, 2007. If convicted, she could get life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison with parole eligibility after 20, 25 or 30 years but not the death penalty.
By ED RUNYAN
Ten men and two women, plus four alternates, are seated as jurors to serve in the Claudia Hoerig aggravated murder trial.
Opening statements and testimony will begin Wednesday after jurors travel by bus to Newton Falls to see the home where Claudia Hoerig is accused of killing her husband, Karl, March 12, 2007.
If convicted, she could get life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison with parole eligibility after 20, 25 or 30 years but not the death penalty.
For about an hour Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker and defense attorney John Cornely told prospective jurors how to judge and evaluate evidence.
Becker wanted potential jurors to know they may not hear from Claudia Hoerig during the trial and may not hear much from defense attorneys, but a defendant is not required to take the witness stand, nor does a defendant have to present witnesses.
Becker listed about 16 people prosecutors plan to call as witnesses, including Peter Pizzulo, a former detective with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s office; current sheriff’s detective Mike Yannucci; former Newton Falls police officer Ron Lane; Joseph Felo of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office; Trumbull County Coroner Thomas James; Bill Boldin and Tony Sano of the FBI; gun range instructor Richard Sliter Jr.; Andrew Chapel of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation; and several Newton Falls residents.
Cornely listed only two witnesses, Ella Johnson of Newton Falls and Barb Silver of New York. It’s not known whether Hoerig, 54, will take the stand on her own behalf.
The defense-witness list does not contain the names of any expert witnesses, despite efforts over the past year by defense attorneys to provide Hoerig with expert witnesses.
The defense tried to obtain expert testimony from a battered-spouse expert and a computer expert, but apparently none of them will testify. Hoerig told investigators Jan. 17, 2018, the day she was flown back to the United States from her native Brazil, that her husband was abusive.
Prosecutors have said she fled to her native Brazil after her husband’s death. It took about 11 years for U.S. officials and others to convince the Brazilian government to extradite her.
The Brazilian legal magazine Consultor Juridico has reported that Hoerig is the first Brazilian ever extradited to face charges in another country.
In his remarks to potential jurors, Cornely asked whether it mattered how many witnesses each side presented if prosecutors fail to prove Hoerig’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It would not matter, the jurors agreed.
Becker asked potential jurors whether they would find one of their fellow jurors “guilty” of being married just because he wears a wedding ring.
They agreed it would take more evidence than that, such as wedding photos or hearing from his wife.
But would they need to hear from every person who was at his wedding? Becker asked.
No, he said. The standard jurors must use to find Hoerig guilty is known as “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Becker said.
“Reasonable doubt is not beyond all doubt, right?” Becker asked. The potential jurors agreed.
Cornely, meanwhile, asked what the potential jurors what they thought when they were in school and heard the name of their friend being called to the office.
“What did he do, right?” Cornely asked.
With an understanding that before testimony has begun, Hoerig enjoys a “presumption of innocence,” Cornely said. “What is she guilty of?”
Nothing, the potential jurors agreed.