Evidence debated in Hoerig case

Defense moves to suppress items taken from home, cars

WARREN — Attorneys for Claudia Hoerig, accused of murdering her husband Karl Hoerig in 2007 in their Newton Falls home, continue to argue that evidence in the case should be suppressed because it was obtained without a search warrant.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, who has yet to rule on the defense motion to suppress evidence seized from the Hoerig’s home and their two cars as well as statements Hoerig made regarding the murder — especially her conversation with federal authorities during the plane ride from Brazil Jan. 17 — heard testimony Thursday from several witnesses regarding a Subaru Baja parked in the driveway of their Newton Falls home that was searched during the investigation.

Hoerig’s attorneys in April said the vehicle was unconstitutionally searched by police without a warrant. Prosecutors in July said the vehicle, which is a cross between a car and a pickup truck, was legally searched because Hoerig abandoned it when she fled, and the search met a three-part “plain view” requirement needed to seize evidence without a warrant.

Retired Newton Falls police Sgt. Ron Lane told prosecutors Thursday that he looked inside the vehicle and saw several guns and a duffel bag, but he did not open or try to get anything out of the vehicle. However, Lane then read a portion of his police report that states that after getting no answer at the house, he found a small truck in the driveway and after checking it he found a cellphone, two rifles, a brief case and in the bed of the vehicle was a duffel bag full of different items.

Defense attorneys have questioned the prosecution’s “plain view” argument, and a defense motion states that in a Trumbull County Sherriff’s Office affidavit a detective states the guns were in cases on the inside of the vehicle.

“It is difficult to understand how the incriminating nature of items in closed cases and inside of a suitcase are immediately apparent,” a motion filed Aug. 3 states.

Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. Michael Yannucci, who said he couldn’t recall much about the Subaru Baja, told defense attorney David Rouzzo he doesn’t know who searched the vehicle, the sheriff’s office doesn’t have any guns taken from it and he doesn’t know where they are.

Paul Hoerig, the brother of Karl Hoerig, testified he saw his brother’s guns in the bed of the Subaru Baja and not inside when he arrived and they were not in cases.

“I thought it was strange that there would be guns sitting unsecured in the back bed of the vehicle,” Paul Hoerig said. “That’s just not something Karl would do.”

Paul Hoerig said he was later able to get some of the guns found in the vehicle, which he and his brother had shot for sport many times, back from the Newton Falls Police Department.

A pre-trial is scheduled in the case Aug. 23 and a trial is set for Sept. 17.

Karl Hoerig, 43, a commercial airline pilot and a major with the 910th Airlift Wing out of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, was found dead in the couple’s home in March 2007. He had been shot in the back of his head and Claudia fled to her native Brazil following the slaying. She was extradited back to Trumbull County in January after exhausting all her appeals in Brazil.