Public Safety

Jury deadlocked: Mistrial declared in Cahill trial for 1992 murder

Defendant Annette Cahill speaks to her attorney, Clemens Erdahl, during trial proceedings in the County Community Services Building in Muscatine on Monday. (Andy Abeyta/Quad-City Times)
Defendant Annette Cahill speaks to her attorney, Clemens Erdahl, during trial proceedings in the County Community Services Building in Muscatine on Monday. (Andy Abeyta/Quad-City Times)

MUSCATINE — A deadlocked jury led to a mistrial Tuesday in the murder trial for Annette Cahill.

After nearly a full day of deliberations, a Muscatine County jury of five women and seven men could not reach a unanimous conclusion on the possible verdict — guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of a lesser charge of second-degree murder or not guilty.

Cahill, 56, of Tipton was charged with first-degree murder last year in the 1992 bludgeoning death of Corey Lee Wieneke of West Liberty. Wieneke, 22 years old at the time, was found dead by his live-in fiancee at their small, rural farmhouse.

The case became active again in 2017 — 25 years after Wieneke’s death — after a woman approached investigators with new information. The woman, Jessie Becker told investigators that, when she was 9 years old, she overheard Cahill in 1992 allegedly confess to killing Wieneke.

The state argued Cahill had motive and opportunity to kill Wieneke as the two were involved in a complicated and sexual relationship.

After Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Patrick McElyea declared the mistrial and the jury was dismissed, Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren said a pretrial conference date on the second trial could be set within a week.

The terms of Cahill’s release still apply. She will be electronically monitored by the Seventh Judicial District Department of Corrections upon release.

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In recorded interviews, Cahill told investigators she and Wieneke had an argument the night before he died about his involvement with another woman. She said she had also been at Wieneke’s home the day he was killed.

Cahill’s attorneys, Clemens Erdahl and Elizabeth Araguas, argued there was no evidence placing Cahill at the scene of the crime. The argument was confirmed through testimony from law enforcement.

Cahill’s fingerprints and DNA were not found in the room where Wieneke was found dead or on the murder weapon — an aluminum softball bat — discovered a mile away from the home. Only Wieneke’s blood was found on the bat, and red fibers on the bat did not match fibers inside the car Cahill was in that day or from her coat. Cahill’s shoes were also tested, but no blood was found.

Wieneke’s parents, Susan and Jim Wieneke, said they were disappointed with the outcome of the trial. The jury was instructed that the child’s confession alone could not convict Cahill.

“I’ve been stuck in ’92,” Susan Wieneke said. “(The trial) hasn’t helped.”

Jim Wieneke said the trial focused on all the things their son did wrong but not the things he did right.

“He loved life,” Jim Wieneke said.

He said his only child was a good athlete — a center on the West Liberty High School football team — and had many friends.

“That’s what made it hard,” Susan Wieneke said. “He had so many friends in so many towns.”

The Wienekes aren’t looking forward to another trial.

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“To do this again is going to be hard, but if it brings justice or a different outcome, we’re hoping,” Susan Wieneke said. “We’re never going to give up hope.”

They said they believe Cahill killed their son.

“Without a doubt,” Jim Wieneke said.

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