Crystal Dawn Weimer exonerated after spending more than a decade in prison
Crystal Dawn Weimer spent more than a decade in jail for allegedly participating in the 2001 murder of Curtis Haith. She served nearly 11 years in prison for that murder before her motion for a new trial was overturned on October 1, 2015. Ms. Weimer’s motion for a new trial was premised on the recantations of the Commonwealth’s key witness, Joseph Stenger, who testified that he, Weimer, and two others participated in Haith’s murder, and Dr. Constantine Karazulas, who testified that the pattern injury on Mr. Haith’s hand was a bite mark that matched Ms. Weimer’s dentition and was inflicted minutes before his death. The court granted the motion for a new trial after Dr. Karazulas admitted that his opinion on timing was a mistake and that his opinion on the cause of the pattern injury on Mr. Haith’s hand was “junk science.”
In December 2015, Ms. Weimer filed a motion to dismiss the charges, alleging in part that, without Mr. Stenger’s testimony and the bite mark evidence, the Commonwealth could not present a prima facie case. At a hearing on the motion on June 27, 2016, Mr. Stenger stated that if called as a witness at the retrial, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Commonwealth responded that it would introduce Mr. Stenger’s 2006 trial testimony at the retrial. Ms. Weimer countered that the Commonwealth should not be allowed to introduce Stenger’s testimony from the 2006 trial because he could not be cross-examined on the recantation. The judge, sitting by appointment after the Fayette County court recused itself, agreed and prohibited the state from introducing Mr. Stenger’s 2006 trial testimony. Given that ruling, the Commonwealth stated that it had insufficient evidence to proceed. Ms. Weimer’s motion to dismiss the charges was granted with prejudice.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Crystal Dawn Weimer, No. CP-26-CR-1496-2004