Jury recommends death for man in killings

By The Associated Press

JEFFERSONVILLE — A jury unanimously recommended the death penalty for a southwestern Indiana man convicted of killing his fiancee’s two children by setting their house on fire.

The jury deliberated a little more than five hours Friday before recommending the death sentence for Jeffrey Weisheit, 37, who was found guilty Tuesday of murder and arson for the April 10, 2010, deaths of 5-year-old Caleb Lynch and 8-year-old Alyssa Lynch at the Vanderburgh County home Weisheit shared with the children’s mother, Lisa Lynch.

Prosecutors cited the number of victims and their ages as aggravating factors warranting the death sentence, the Evansville Courier & Press reported. Two doctors testified as expert witnesses that Weisheit suffers from bipolar disorder.

On Monday, Weisheit told the jury that he didn’t set the fire and suggested that faulty electrical work might have been to blame. He did, however, admit that he had stuffed a dish towel into Caleb’s mouth and used duct tape to secure it in place and to pin the boy’s arms behind his back before he left the children alone at about 1 a.m. Their mother was at work at the time.

He said he used the duct tape because Caleb had been misbehaving.

The coroner determined that the children died of smoke inhalation.

Several hours after the fire, deputies from Boone County, Ky., south of Cincinnati, were pursuing Weisheit’s car when he jumped from the vehicle while it was moving and charged officers with a hunting knife. He was subdued with a stun gun.

When detectives questioned Weisheit in a hospital, court records say he indicated that he set the fire and that he knew the children were home at the time. However, he also repeatedly told investigators that he could not remember any details.

Judge Daniel Moore set a July 11 sentencing date. Twelve inmates currently face the death penalty in Indiana, according to the state Department of Correction.

The trial was moved from Evansville to Jeffersonville, about 100 miles to the west, because of media coverage.

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