20-yr-old witness in crime from 17 years ago

Tom Zich at a recent court appearance
Tom Zich at a recent court appearance
Family photo of Mary Jane Zich with her daughter
Family photo of Mary Jane Zich with her daughter
Report by Lisa Rantala - email | bio
Posted by LS

TOLEDO (WTOL) - The defense is calling this daughter the key witness for the state. She's 20 now, but would be asked about what she saw when she was three.

"When someone killed Mary Jane Zich 17 years ago, it was her three-year-old daughter who said she saw what happened," Defense attorney Alan Konop says.

The defense filed a motion this week stating her story kept changing back then.

Police say Zich's husband, Tom, strangled her, bound her and threw her in the trunk of her car.

His attorney got hold of what the daughter said to counselors and psychologists after it happened and calls it unreliable. "For the most part, it's because of some very serious inconsistencies," says Konop.

For the first two years after the murder, the defense says the daughter first said her mom was killed at the Zich residence. Then she said her mom was killed at McDonald's. They say she claimed the killer used a gun and possibly a knife. But there was no indication either weapon was used in the crime.

And as for who did it, the defense sites more conflicting stories.

First they claim she described a monster having gloves and scaring her. Then she began claiming that Mr. Zich killed her. They say she later eluded to a second person who may have acted alone and talked about an intruder who broke into the home.  Konop states, "We feel there is a very good probability that she would not have been competent to testify."

The defense says the daughter's family influenced what she said and would talk about their own theories in front of her.

Now the daughter is 20, and she is able to testify. Prosecutors say the defense can bring up the contradictions during cross examination.

Defense attorneys are asking a judge not to allow that risk and to drop the case.