Weber bound over
in murder case
A Hermann woman was ordered bound over to Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon in a December shooting death that occurred on Goethe Street.
Christine E. Weber, 902 Goethe St., is charged with the Class A felony of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in relation to the Dec. 15 shooting of Al Falco, at the address. Weber allegedly shot Falco late that afternoon, after officers had already visited the duplex at intersection of Ninth and Goethe streets twice earlier in the day in response to reports of domestic violence. The hearing marked the first time Falco has been formally mentioned as the victim.
Associate Judge Ada Brehe-Krueger ruled that the prosecution presented enough evidence in a preliminary hearing that a felony had been committed, thus allowing the case to advance to the next highest court level. Weber must return to the Gasconade County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 3, for Circuit Court arraignment before Judge Ike Lamke.
The judge's ruling followed presentation of testimony by several members of the Herman Police Department by Gasconade County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Weston, including Chief Marlon Walker -- who was among the officers responding to the scene after dispatch received a call of shots fired there.
Weber was present for the hearing and was shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. She remained attentive as the officers recited their testimony of responding to the Goethe Street duplex three times on Dec. 15. At times, she looked back at family members sitting in the courtoom and occasionally nodded her head affirmatively or negatively as she listened to the police rendition of events.
Hermann Police Officer Justin Lintermoot said he responded to the address on the first occasion because Weber had told police she was concerned due to Falco's behavior towards her. The two had been living together at the duplex. It was determined on that first police visit that Falco had not harmed her. Lintermoot filed an incident report based on his initial visit.
Some two hours later, Lintermoot returned to Goethe Street and discovered that Falco had still not done anything to harm Weber, who said she had become scared of Falco and that he had beaten her in the past. He had been barricaded himself on the other side of the duplex with various items, according to testimony. Lintermoot canvassed the residence and discovered an inoperable .22-caliber Winchester rifle on a pile of boxes in the basement. The rifle was an antique that had been undisturbed for some time.
Police attempted to convince Weber that it was in her best interests to leave, but she refused several options -- in part saying she believed she may not have been able to return home if she left.
A third call to the residence was made 30 minutes after the second police visit, on a report of shots fired. While on the witness stand, Lintermoot identified crime scene photos and a house diagram shown him by Weston. He said Weber acted distraught and was walking around the house upon his third return. She had immediately called 911 after the shooting, and testimony showed that Falco was talking when police arrived. A refrigerator that had been used as part of the barricade had been moved away from blocking a door inside the duplex. Weber told Lintermoot where he could find the handgun used in the shooting.
Chief Walker testified that Falco was on his back, was moving around, and said Weber had shot him. He told police what he was doing at the time.
"He just stated he was getting his laundry," said Walker.
Under defense questioning, Walker said Falco refused to let police see him because he didn't want officers to throw him to the ground. Falco had told police that he wanted to stay at the residence.
Sgt. Mason Griffith of Hermann Police said he responded to the emergency room of Hermann Area District Hospital, where Falco died, in order to help document the crime scene. He identified photos on questioning by Weston. He investigated the scene and found one bullet next to stairs in a garage common to the duplex. He also found the rifle still in the basement. He recorded an interview conducted with Weber. She said she had only shot the gun as a warning to Falco.
Before the judge's ruling, Courtney Harness of the public defender's office argued that the state in its testimony failed to prove probable cause in the matter.
"This is not murder in the first degree," she said. "There's no evidence the bullet actually caused the death."
Weston countered that the state had proven requirements for advancing the case on to Circuit Court.
"She (Weber) said over and over that she shot him," said Weston.
The testimony from Walker revealed that Weber had asked officers numerous times for permission to shoot Falco, a request to which police continually objected.
Weber remains in custody at the Crawford County Jail in Steelville.