Defense: Walter Zimbeck's fate should depend on the facts - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Defense: Walter Zimbeck's fate should depend on the facts

Defense Attorney Amber Van Gunten says the case should be about the facts. Defense Attorney Amber Van Gunten says the case should be about the facts.
Walter Zimbeck is a suspect in the murder of Lori Ann Hill's murder nearly 30 years later. Walter Zimbeck is a suspect in the murder of Lori Ann Hill's murder nearly 30 years later.

WAUSEON, OH (Toledo News Now) - A high profile murder case is developing in Fulton County as a man is on trial for a murder that happened back in 1985.

Walter Zimbeck, 45, is charged with murder and aggravated murder in the death of Lori Ann Hill.

Each side made its opening statement in Fulton County Court Tuesday morning. Prosecutors said Zimbeck and Lori Ann Hill broke up just before the murder. They called Zimbeck jealous and controlling, stating the way the relationship ended led to Hill's death.

"It was the rage he felt when she ended their relationship that led to her death," said Scott Haffelman, Fulton County prosecutor.

Prosecutors said Zimbeck had scratches on his face and blood shot eyes the day after the murder. They said he made up alibis to cover up the crime.

"You'll hear him acknowledge that those stories are bold-faced lies and that he lied without explanation," said Haffelman.

The defense called the prosecution's case circumstantial. The defense said the facts will show DNA evidence found on Hill's body does not match Zimbeck's, and that someone else admitted to the murder.

"If the evidence or witnesses did not support their story, they kicked it to the curb, called it lies, turned off the tape recorder or claimed that it just somehow wasn't relevant," explained Amber Van Gunten, defense attorney.

According to the defense, investigators made up a theory that Zimbeck was the killer and excluded evidence to the contrary.

"His fate should depend on the facts, and I submit that this case is about the fact that Walter Zimbeck is not guilty of killing Lori Ann Hill," said Van Gunten.

After opening, the jury boarded a bus to key locations connected to the case. Then witnesses who saw Lori Ann the night she died took the stand.

 

Lori Ann's niece was in the courtroom.

"It's hard to look at a murderer," said Lori Edwards.

Edwards still can recall her aunt's dreams and kindness.

"She wanted to help teach handicapped children. She loved horses and she loved her family more than life," said Edwards.

The trial is expected to last four weeks, as the family hopes for an end to a long journey.

"We just hope for justice. It's been a long battle, so we just hope to see it through," said Edwards.

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