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Bliefnick murder trial: Day 4

A photograph inside the courtroom on Wednesday during day three of the Bliefnick murder trial. Casey Schnack, bottom left, is the defense attorney for Tim Bliefnick. Josh Jones, top middle, is the Assistant State's Attorney representing the state of Illinois. Judge Robert Adrian, bottom right, is the judge assigned to the case of People vs. Bliefnick. (KHQA)
A photograph inside the courtroom on Wednesday during day three of the Bliefnick murder trial. Casey Schnack, bottom left, is the defense attorney for Tim Bliefnick. Josh Jones, top middle, is the Assistant State's Attorney representing the state of Illinois. Judge Robert Adrian, bottom right, is the judge assigned to the case of People vs. Bliefnick. (KHQA)
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8:45 AM: Thursday is day four of the Bliefnick murder trial in the Adam's County Courthouse. We heard from 12 witnesses on Wednesday.

Timothy (Tim) Bliefnick is facing two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion. Tim is accused of killing his wife, Rebecca (Becky) Bliefnick. Rebecca was found dead in her home with 14 gunshot wounds on February 23. If Tim is found guilty, he could be sentenced to 45 years to life in prison. He will have to serve 100% of his sentence on a murder conviction.

We are in the courtroom and will update you throughout the day. Check this story for updates.

9:00 AM: As the prosecutors were walking into the courtroom they were carrying several boxes with the contents marked as evidence.

9:06 AM: Gary Collins is the first witness Thursday morning. Collins currently lives in Ohio but used to live in Indiana where he knew Becky and Tim Bliefnick. Tim worked at Quincy Recycling in Indiana.

Collins testified that Becky told him that Tim was hiding money from her. She also told him that she didn’t want the boys around Tim’s dad, Ray. Collins said one time he talked to her she was distraught, crying, and said if anything happens to her it was Tim.

Collins, who was a police officer, told Becky to get a restraining order.

9:14 AM: Jarrod Evans is the second witness Thursday. Evans was Tim’s boss at Quincy Farm Products for about three years. He said Tim was permitted to work remotely.

Evans said Tim was assigned a new laptop. The prosecution held up the laptop assigned to Tim. Evans collected the laptop after Becky's death. He said he didn't open it.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack, representing Tim Bliefnick, asked Evans if Tim worked remotely in 2023. Evans said yes.

Schnack asked if Tim showed up for work, meetings, etc. Evans said yes, everything seemed typical.

9:20 AM: Mark Sheftick, Illinois State Police, is the third witness to take the stand Thursday. Sheftick testified that he’s had 600 hours of training specializing in computer forensics. He said he’s been doing computer forensics for six years. Sheftick testified about the process of making a copy of computer data without altering it. He was given Tim's computer so he could download information from it.

Sheftick said he provided a hard drive with data from Tim's computer to Quincy police. The prosecution submitted the hard drive into evidence.

The defense asked Sheftick if he was given parameters or direction as to what to take from Tim’s computer. Sheftick said no.

9:40 AM: Kip Baumann, Illinois State Police Digital Forensic Examiner, is the fourth witness called to the stand Thursday. He discussed how he pulls data from a cell phone and laptop. Baumann said passcodes on devices make it more challenging to get onto the device. The newer the phone the more difficult, he said. Baumann said he was able to unlock Tim's cell phone, download the data and images, and provide a report concerning the cell contents to investigators.

9:47 AM: The state called Thursday's fifth witness, Michael Price to the stand. He works for United Systems, a company that provides security such as cameras for surveillance. He was contacted by Quincy Police to provide police with video from a home on S. 20th St. during Feb. 2023.

9:50 AM: Lynn Breeden, the security secretary at Quincy Public Schools, is the sixth witness Thursday. She testified there was a security camera at the bus barn. She said police wanted video from that location from Feb. 22, Feb. 23, and March 13.

10:22 AM: Emily Pezzella, Quincy Police Crime Scene Technician, is the seventh witness Thursday. She collects crime scene evidence and takes photos of crime scenes. She worked the Kentucky Rd. house where Becky Bliefnick was killed.

Assistant State's Attorney Josh Jones asked Pezzella if the photos she took accurately reflect the crime scene at the Kentucky Rd. home. She said yes. The pictures are submitted as evidence.

Pezzella described the second floor of Becky's home while a diagram and a picture are shown to the court. Pezzella discussed a broken window in the second story of Becky's home. A photo is shown to the court.

She testified about a chair that was pulled from the patio and placed next to Becky's house. Again, a photo is shown to the court. Pezzalla testified she swabbed the chair for DNA evidence, possibly touch DNA. She said she didn't try to obtain fingerprints from the chair because doing so might compromise possible DNA evidence.

A photo was shown of the broken window from inside the home and a photo of a footprint left on the carpet inside the home.

The prosecution showed a photo of the main upstairs hallway. Pezzella described what the photo shows: pieces of metal from a door and pieces of plastic on the floor. Pezzalla described what was captured in another photo at a different angle. The photo shows metal broken off from the door frame, splintered wood from the door, and seven shell casings in that area (one more casing in the hall).

A photo looking into the bathroom where Becky's body was found was shown. She said she found multiple pieces of plastic and a bullet hole around the victim/on the floor.

The prosecution asked if the crotch-less pants the victim was wearing were designed that way to help someone use the restroom after surgery. Pezzalla said yes. The victim had surgery days before she was murdered.

A close-up photo of Becky's face and upper body was shown. Some of her family members turned their eyes away and looked down.

Close-up photos of the bullet wounds on Becky's body including her hand and her back, and a photo of the bath mat that had holes and blood on it were shown.

Sniffles were heard in the courtroom as the graphic photos were displayed.

Assistant State's Attorney Josh Jones asked Pezzella about the shell casings sent to the crime lab. Pezzella said seven casings were tested for DNA and one was tested for fingerprints. She said they can’t test for both on each one, because there isn’t enough surface on the casing. Pezella said she also could not test for both DNA and fingerprints on the pieces of a plastic bag that were around Becky's body because the surface is too small. She said doing so might compromise the ability to get anything.

Pezzella testified about the autopsy performed on Becky in which bullets and bullet fragments were found in the victim. The bullets were sent to the crime lab.

She then testified that gunshot residue can be washed off with soap and water. "It doesn't take much does it?" Josh Jones asked her. She said no. Pezzella said after six hours, it becomes less likely to be able to test for gunshot residue. On Tuesday, Assistant State's Attorney Josh Jones said he found "How to wash gunpowder from your hands" in Tim Bliefnick's search history.

Pezzella said she collected several items from Tim's house, inside and out, including a crowbar from his basement. Pezzella said the crowbar was sent to the crime lab for testing. She collected several crowbars from Tim's house, but only one was sent to the crime lab because the others appeared not to be disturbed in a while. Pezzella also sent the footprint on Becky's bedside table a, footprint on the carpet, and one gun from Tim's house to the crime lab.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack asked Pezzella if hundreds of items were collected as evidence in this case, but not everything was sent to the crime lab. Pezzella said yes, that is true.

Jones asked why all the shoes weren't sent to the crime lab. Pezzella said the others weren't a similar match to the footprint.

1:16 PM: Court is back in session after the lunch break. The eighth witness on Thursday is Detective Sergeant Bryan Dusch, Quincy Police. Dusch and other officers executed a search warrant on Tim Bliefnick's home on Hampshire St. in Quincy.

A photo of a black, red, and white bike with a rear flat tire was shown to the court. Dusch says this bike was in Tim's garage. A photo of gloves was also shown. Dusch says the gloves were not tested for gunshot residue. More photos of gloves were shown in court. One pair was seen tossed in a trash can. Police seized those gloves on March 1, about a week after Becky's body was found. Dusch said too much time had passed from when the gloves were collected and when the murder occurred to test for gunshot residue.

Dusch testified that plastic Aldi bags were taken from Tim's house as evidence and were sent to the crime lab.

A photo of various types of ammunition in Tim's garage was shown to the court. Dusch describes what is seen in the photo. He said nine mm bullets were found in a box in Tim's garage. These are the same type of shell casings that were found at the crime scene. He said the nine mm ammunition found in Tim's garage and the casings from the crime scene were sent to the crime lab.

The prosecution showed a photo of what Dusch describes as a gun safe in Tim's bedroom. Dusch said he opened it and it was empty.

A photo of a gun holster was shown. The holster depicted in the image was brought into the courtroom.

Another photo of a gun safe from Tim's house was shown to the court. Dusch described what is in the photo: guns and handguns.

Dusch said searches were conducted on gun purchases by both Tim and Becky. Becky bought a nine mm, but it was never found. A different nine mm gun was found in Tim's second gun safe downstairs in his home. A photo is shown of Tim Bliefniek firing a gun. The photo doesn't have a date or a time attached, the prosecution asserted and Dusch agreed.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack asked Dusch about testing the gloves for gunshot residue. "They were not tested for gunshot residue because there's a six-hour window?" Schnack questioned.

Dusch replied that based on his training, there is not much chance of getting anything if it has been longer than six hours. Schnack responds, "But there is a chance."

1:58 PM: The ninth witness Thursday is Patrick Hollensteiner, Quincy Police Officer. He said he was tasked with searching for a bicycle.

The prosecution showed a photo to the court of the bike Hollensteiner said he found near Tim Bliefnick's home. Hollensteiner noted to the court the bike didn’t have reflectors and the tires were intact. He said the bike was next to a garage off of 18th St., about a block from Tim's home.

A video reenactment was shown to the court of Hollensteiner climbing from a chair against Becky's house up to the second floor to where her window was broken. To get up on the roof in that manner, Hollensteiner said you have to be somewhat athletic.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack asked Hollensteiner if it is common for police to find bikes around town. He said it is common.

Schnack asked Hollensteiner about canvassing neighborhoods surrounding both Tim and Becky's homes for video and to speak with neighbors. He said he checked in with many homes and no one reported seeing anything out of the ordinary. He added that in all the conducted canvassing, he came across two or three pieces of useful video. He said he was not the only officer searching for useful videos.

2:26 PM: The tenth witness Thursday is Michael Blaesing. He is a Quincy resident who sells items on Facebook Marketplace.

Assistant State's Attorney Josh Jones asked Blaesing about a men's Schwinn bike he sold in Oct. 2022. Jones asked, "Are there any reflectors on the front or back wheels?" Blaesing said no.

Jones asked Blaesing if the bike was purchased with cash or a check. Blaesing said a man bought the bike from Blaesing with cash.

2:31 PM: The eleventh witness Thursday is Zach Bemis, Quincy Police Officer. He reenacted a bike ride from Tim's home to Becky's. He said it took less than five minutes.

Bemis said he also searched for video evidence at 16th St. and Hampshire and the surrounding area. He said he went to 12-15 homes but was unsuccessful in finding useful videos.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack asked Bemis what size bike he used in the reenactment. He said he did not recall. She asked if he was an avid biker. He said no.

2:45 PM: The twelfth and final witness Thursday is Bradley Ehmen, who lives on Hampshire St. where Tim lives. He said in Jan. 2023, Tim Bliefnick asked him if he had surveillance cameras that showed his backyard. Ehmen told him he did not.

Defense Attorney Casey Schnack asked Ehmen if he has ever had a problem with trespassers in his backyard. Ehmen said yes.

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