Double guilty verdict in murder trial

Published 7:14 pm Friday, September 6, 2013

CASSOPOLIS — A jury of six men and six women deliberated almost three hours Friday before finding Keith James Lintz, 29, guilty of murdering John and Carolyn Tarwacki in their home on Carberry Road in Howard Township on Feb. 5, 2010.

The couple were shot, beaten and stabbed at their home outside Niles.

Lintz was found guilty on all three counts, including a felony firearm charge, despite a lack of physical evidence, but a strong circumstantial case buttressed by seven “admission witnesses” in whom Lintz confided confessions.

They all give voice to one person, Lintz, who did not take the witness stand in his own behalf.

“Keith Lintz speaks to you through them if you’ll listen,” Special Prosecutor Doug Baker, an assistant attorney general, said in his closing argument. “He tells you who did it and why. What results is a powerful case.”

Defense attorney Greg Feldman tried to chip away at that circumstantial web by raising 26 points where the jury could find reasonable doubt since nothing directly links Lintz to the crime scene — not hair, blood or fingerprints.

The courtroom filled with sobs from relatives on both sides as the jury foreman announced the verdict and they were polled individually before avoiding the media as they were escorted from the courthouse.

After the verdict was read, the victim’s father, John Tarwacki Sr., said, “Obviously we’re very pleased with the verdict. It’s a bittersweet day. This doesn’t bring back the kids, but at least we have some questions answered now.”

Tarwacki also thanked God “for sustaining us through this horrible time,” the prosecutor and Det. Sgt. Fabian Suarez of the Michigan State Police Niles post “because he never gave up. He said, ‘I’ll never give up,’ and he didn’t.”

Tarwacki also thanked witnesses who came forward and “did the right thing. God bless them all.”

Feldman characterized police work in the case as “sloppy,” emphasizing a bloody knife investigators overlooked in the Tarwacki’s freezer until two months after the killings.

“They’ve provided you with typos, embarrassing errors and mistakes, felons, convicts, drug addicts, liars and thieves, all lined up to try and show you that Mr. Lintz is guilty,” Feldman stated.

Lintz’s family was visibly upset at the verdict and left without comment.

Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge, who presided over the seven-day trial, set sentencing for Oct. 11, when Lintz faces life in prison without possibility of parole.

Catch up on the rest of the trial:
Day 7: Prosecution, defense rest in Niles double-murder trial
Day 6: Defense seeks mistrial in Niles double homicide case
Day 5: Lintz: State is “too stupid” to catch me
Day 4: Cellmate: Lintz made tearful admission to killing Tarwackis
Day 3: Ex-girlfriend: Lintz implicated himself in Tarwacki murders
Day 2: Witness: Lintz worried about footprints in snow
Day 1: Prosecutor: Tarwackis died in robbery gone wrong