Lintz: State is “too stupid” to catch me

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Krista Mehl points out Keith Lintz during trial Tuesday in Cass County Circuit Court. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Krista Mehl points out Keith Lintz during trial Tuesday in Cass County Circuit Court. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

CASSOPOLIS — Four more state witnesses testified Tuesday that Keith James Lintz implicated himself in the 2010 double homicide of Niles couple John and Carolyn Tarwacki.

Lintz, of Niles is being tried on two counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 5, 2010 murders of the Tarwackis in their Howard Township home.

Krista Mehl, 27, told the jury Lintz was living with her at a residence in Nashville, Tenn., in the fall of 2010. Mehl said she heard rumors that Lintz had been involved in a pair of murders in Michigan.

When Mehl asked Lintz if he killed someone in Michigan, Lintz told her, “No I killed two people in Michigan.” Lintz told Mehl not to worry because police only had his footprints and the state was “too stupid” to catch him.

Initially, Mehl said she thought Lintz was joking around. On Tuesday in Cass County Circuit Court, Mehl told members of jury she believes 100 percent that Lintz was telling the truth about killing the Tarwackis.

What changed her mind?

According to Special Prosecutor Doug Baker, Lintz allegedly blacked out and brutally beat Mehl in October 2010. The jury was unable to hear this because Judge Michael Dodge barred any mention of the assault on Mehl for fear it would unfairly prejudice the jury.

Lintz moved back to Michiana after the alleged assault.

Defense Attorney Greg Feldman pointed out during cross-examination that Mehl did not tell police during an interview what Lintz said about the murders.

Mehl said she originally didn’t want to testify against Lintz because she was afraid of him and feared for her life.


Road trip

State witness James Fegeley, 35, of Niles testified that he took a road trip to Nashville in the summer of 2010 with Lintz, Brian Jacobs (Lintz’s brother) and another person. They were going to stay with Mehl, who is the mother of Fegeley’s children and, at the time, his girlfriend.

They stayed in Tennessee for 2-3 weeks before coming back to Michigan without Lintz.

Ryan Dilliard, 27, of Tennessee, an acquaintance of Mehl, said he heard Lintz tell Jacobs that he wanted to stay in Tennessee because “I did it and I can’t go back (to Michigan).” Lintz remained behind to live with Mehl.

According to Dilliard’s testimony, Lintz told Dilliard that he had murdered two people in Michigan during a robbery attempt. Lintz said someone surprised them and he blacked out. When he came to, two people were dead.

Fegeley testified that while in Tennesse he heard Lintz say “I put them out of their misery — pow,” while making a motion with his hand as if he was holding a gun. Lintz also told Fegeley, “I just snapped.”

Fageley said he and Lintz had been drinking all day when Lintz made the statements.


Another admission

State witness Timothy James, 26, said Lintz admitted to murdering the Tarwackis while the two were housed in the Cass County Jail in June of this year.

James asked Lintz how he felt about being charged with the murders. James said Lintz told him he wasn’t worried because police didn’t have a murder weapon. James also said Lintz threatened to kill state witnesses Shane Lee Zimmerman and Karessa Warner.

James said Lintz never said Zimmerman and Warner were lying, just that he was mad they were testifying against him.

James was in jail on a parole violation for lying to police in June of this year. He also has a previous theft conviction.

When Feldman asked why the jury should believe him, James said, “I can understand robbing somebody, but to kill somebody and be okay with it — that’s not cool.”

The jury also heard from three people who saw a person in a dark hoodie walking away from the scene of the crime between 7:30 and 7:50 a.m. Feb. 5. No witness saw the person’s face.

It was the fifth day of trial.

Prior to the jury being called, Dodge said someone was chanting something at members of the jury after the trial let out Friday. He warned the courtroom that anyone caught tampering with the jury would be arrested.