116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a Tipton woman who killed her West Liberty boyfriend with a baseball bat in 1992 after she found out he was cheating on her.
Annette Cahill was sentenced in November 2019 in the killing of bartender Corey Wieneke, 22, at his home just outside West Liberty on Oct. 13, 1992.
Cahill and Wieneke had a romantic relationship for about a year before his death. According to trial testimony, the two argued about his involvement with another woman several hours before his body was discovered about 6:30 p.m. by his fiancee, Jody Hotz.
Hotz had gone to work at 8 a.m. that day. Wieneke, who worked nights, was asleep when she left. When Hotz returned home, things were out of place, their dog was outside unchained and the screen door was left open.
Hotz found Wieneke lying face down on the floor next to their bed, his body bloodied and battered.
A forensic pathologist testified at trial that Wieneke had 13 blunt force injuries and that a bat or pipe could have been the murder weapon, according to the ruling. Four of the wounds were to his head, and the fatal blow split open the back of his skull.
According to testimony, Wieneke had been working at Wink’s Tap in West Liberty. He was known to have relationships with more than one woman. One of those relationships was with Cahill.
Cahill said she and Wieneke had plans to “skip town” in October 1992 and buy a bar in Branson, Mo.
According to the ruling, Cahill was waiting for Wieneke in his blue Cadillac after 2 a.m. Oct. 13, 1992, but Wieneke left the bar with another woman, Wendi Marshall.
Cahill later admitted she was “furious” and had a “heated discussion” with Wieneke outside the vehicle. Wieneke drove Marshall to her car and said he would drop off Cahill and return.
Cahill said she took Wieneke home but remained long enough to have “angry sex” and then left, the ruling stated. Wieneke went to Marshall’s house but didn’t stay long and then went home to Hotz.
Law enforcement said Cahill had a potential motive in Wieneke’s slaying, but there were no eyewitnesses and no physical evidence. The case went cold.
According to the Supreme Court ruling, Cahill always cooperated with law enforcement and had an alibi through her sister-in-law, who said they had been together that morning.
Then, in December 2017, Jessica Becker, an intensive care nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, met Special Agent Trent Vileta with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, who was interviewing a witness in a different case.
Vileta mentioned he worked on cold cases, and Becker told him she had overheard Cahill confessing to the Wieneke’s killing when Becker was 9 years old, according to the ruling.
Cahill lived with her brother, Denny Hazen, and his wife at a farmhouse. Becker was friends with Hazen’s daughters and would go to their home for sleepovers.
During a sleepover in the fall of 1992, Becker said she and one of Hazen’s daughters sneaked downstairs late at night and heard Cahill, downstairs by herself with black candles lit, crying and confessing to killing Wieneke.
Becker said she tried to talk about the confession with her friend and also told her mother. Her mother testified at Cahill’s trial she was afraid to take her daughter to police.
Cahill was charged in Wieneke’s slaying and prosecuted, with the first trial ending in a mistrial in March 2019 because the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict. In her September 2019 retrial in Muscatine County District Court, a jury found Cahill guilty of second-degree murder.
Cahill, now 59, is serving a 50-year prison sentence.
In Cahill’s appeal of her conviction, she asked the court for a new trial, arguing the prosecution failed to timely disclose four human hairs found on Wieneke’s hand were unsuitable for standard DNA testing.
Cahill also argued the 26-year delay in prosecution violated her right to due process because it was unreasonable and diminished her ability to present a defense, according to the ruling.
Justice Edward M. Mansfield, writing for the court majority, said Cahill received a fair trial. She could have pursued further DNA testing but didn’t. She possibly still could do that in a post-conviction proceeding, he wrote.
No actual prejudice and “no bad faith” existed on the part of the prosecution regarding the delay in prosecution, the ruling stated, adding there was sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty of second-degree murder.
Comments: (319) 398-8318; firstname.lastname@example.org