Witness: Lintz worried about footprints in snow

Published 8:09 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Michigan State Police Sgt. Michael McCarthy shows jurors a molding made from a footprint found in the snow outside the Tarwacki’s home after the February 2010 double homicide. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Michigan State Police Sgt. Michael McCarthy shows jurors a molding made from a footprint found in the snow outside the Tarwacki’s home after the February 2010 double homicide. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

CASSOPOLIS — Day two of the Keith Lintz murder trial saw a forensic pathologist testify to the cause of death of Niles couple John and Carolyn Tarwacki and the testimony of a witness who claims she heard Lintz admit to something days after the 2010 double homicide.

Lintz is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing the Tarwackis in their home on Carberry Road in Howard Township on Feb. 5, 2010. The Tarwackis were both shot twice and stabbed multiple times.

Patricia Wilds, 26, of Niles, testified Wednesday in Cass County Circuit Court that Lintz unexpectedly showed up at a Niles trailer park where she was living with her boyfriend, Keith Brigham, a few days after the Tarwackis were found dead. Brigham is a cousin of Lintz.

Wilds, who has known Lintz since the 10th grade, said Lintz was acting jittery and paranoid, looking out windows and mumbling “they are going to catch me” and “I should’ve wiped my footprints.”

Wilds said Lintz had a cast on his wrist and fresh cuts on his hand. She also said Lintz showed a gun to her and said “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” Lintz also said, according to Wilds’ testimony, that the cops were stupid because they had his footprints, but didn’t have his DNA.

Wilds said she didn’t know what Lintz was referring to that night and never asked him to explain himself.

“It didn’t make any sense at the time,” she said.

Wilds said she learned about the murders a couple days later. She also said she believed Lintz was high when he came to the trailer.

Wilds only told police a portion of what happened that night when police interviewed her in June 2011. She told the rest of the story during another police interview after she was arrested for driving with a suspended license in September 2012. Wilds said she asked for nothing in exchange for talking to police the second time.

However, as pointed out by defense attorney Greg Feldman during cross-examination, Wilds’ charge for driving with a suspended license was later dismissed.

Wilds insisted she did not ask for anything and police never promised her anything.

“I told him (police officer) everything because it was the right thing to do. I should’ve done it the first time,” said Wilds, who was convicted of forgery in 2007.

When Feldman asked Wilds why she didn’t go to police before being arrested she said, “I thought the Lintz family was my family and I didn’t want to do anything to make them hate me.”

Wilds said she has nothing against Lintz and that she hasn’t enjoyed being a witness of the state. In fact, Wilds said she was attacked by a group of women one day after testifying against Lintz in a preliminary examination in January. Wilds said the women called her a snitch and knocked out some of her teeth. Media was not allowed to take her picture in trial Wednesday because she was fearful for her safety. Wilds said she didn’t know who attacked her.

The jury also heard testimony from Dr. David Start, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the Tarwackis. Start said John was shot twice, once in the face and once in the chest, and stabbed 10 times in the back. John’s cause of death was from the stab wounds and the gunshot to the chest.

Start said Carolyn was also shot twice, once in the arm and once in the back, and stabbed five times in the chest and upper abdomen. Carolyn was also severely beaten about the face, neck and upper chest. She died of stab wounds and head injuries.

More testimony came from Michigan State Police Sgt. Michael McCarthy, a crime scene technician who processed the murder scene. McCarthy said they found a single set of footprints going to and from the Tarwackis home down a right-of-way behind the home. Drops of Carolyn’s blood were found in and around the footprints leading away from the home.

Police were unable to use the footprints to find a suspect. They also couldn’t find a murder weapon. Carolyn’s mother ultimately found the knife used in the murders in a freezer in the Tarwacki’s home months after the crime.

The trial continues Thursday in Cass County Circuit Court.