Thursday, July 24, 2014
A convicted killer will get a second chance to escape death row, after the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday he should get a new sentencing hearing.
John Edward Weik, 47, of Moncks Corner, was given a death sentence for murder and a life sentence for burglary after killing his ex-girlfriend in Knightsville in 1998.
But Wednesday’s ruling indicates Weik’s attorneys didn’t do enough to present jurors with mitigating circumstances that could have convinced them to forego the death penalty.
One of his attorneys, in fact, is now suspended from practicing law.
“We cannot conclude that counsel made any reasoned,
strategic choices regarding which witnesses would testify—there simply was no
mitigation strategy,” the court said.
Weik shot and killed his ex-girlfriend Susan Krasae at her home after an argument.
The Journal Scene reported then that Krasae told Weik he wasn’t to see their son again. Weik retreated to his truck, then grabbed a shotgun, still loaded from hunting, and returned to shoot her four times.
“I popped another shell into her. It felt good. Popped another shell into her. It felt better; popped another shell into her. It felt even better,” the Journal Scene reported he told police.
Weik also said he was ready for the death penalty.
It took a jury only 15 minutes to convict him, and not quite an hour to give him the death sentence.
Yet the Supreme Court’s ruling says Weik’s attorneys failed him by overlooking evidence their own investigators had turned up of Weik’s horrific childhood and the mental illness prevalent within his family – evidence that could have changed the outcome of his sentencing.
The Supreme Court ruling details testimony from Weik’s siblings that alleged their father, Russell Weik, beat them, would lock them in the non-air-conditioned attic for hours, would make the boys stand in the yard at attention for hours through the night, and that he was a compulsive hoarder who claimed to be an undercover operative for the CIA.
One sibling said Russell Weik was particularly hard on John Weik because he was “slow.”
“To be sure, Russell is
a psychotic, very disturbed individual,” the court said.
As the jury considered Weik’s sentence, it never heard of the “severe abuse” he endured because his attorneys didn’t bother to read their investigators’ reports and thus were unaware of the “wealth of information that had been uncovered,” the court said.
Summerville Town Councilman Walter Bailey was the First Circuit Solicitor at the time.
After reading the court’s opinion Wednesday, he said his first thought is of the family that must re-live the murder and trial nearly a generation later.
Yes, he said, there were probably things the defense team could have done better, but “if they had done those things I don’t believe the result would have been different.”
Testimony about a brutal childhood is a double-edged sword, Bailey said.
Had any of Weik’s siblings taken the stand to testify about their abusive father, Bailey would have simply asked why the sibling hadn’t murdered anyone, having grown up in the same environment.