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A 12-member jury in Wells Circuit Court at Bluffton found a Bluffton man, Tyler White, guilty of murder on Monday for the shooting death of his estranged wife, Amy Meyer White, a former Berne resident, last October.
"We finally got what we wanted. We wanted the truth to be told and I think that's what we got," said grieving, but relieved Mike Meyer of Berne, the father of the victim, according to this morning's edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
The trial started on October 3 and ended one week later. Today, the jurors were due to return to hear evidence about whether the 29-year-old White should also be convicted of feticide, since his wife was pregnant when she was killed.
Meyer will now begin seeking custody of the two-year-old son of Tyler and Amy White. The boy is in the custody of White's brother and wife.
In Monday's court session, the two lead attorneys summed up their views of the case before the jury deliberated.
Wells County Prosecutor Mike Lautzenheiser told the jurors, "The defendant's claim of self-defense is absolutely ridiculous." White claimed he shot his wife twice while he was kneeling and she was standing, but a forensic pathologist who testified for the prosecution said he is 99 percent certain that White was also standing when he fired the fatal shots.
White admitted he shot his wife, but said he did so only after she pointed a handgun at him that he said she stolen from one of their friends.
Lautzenheiser said White's wife was never interested in guns and the gun attributed to her was not ready to be shot, while White had carried a handgun every day for years in the rear waistband of his pants, the Journal Gazette reported.
The prosecutor also said White was known for calling his wife obscene names and generally verbally abusing her, had lost his job the day before the shooting, and was facing a child-custody hearing in court without having a lawyer.
In addition, Lautzenheiser pointed out that after shooting his wife, White shot her cellular telephone, on which Mrs. White has allegedly been storing incriminating evidence of her husband's verbal abuse, and then washed his hands before calling the 911 emergency number.
Amy White died by bleeding to death.
White's defense lawyer, James Voyles of Indianapolis, pointed to the fact that one of Amy White's hair was found in the box in her vehicle in which the handgun had been stored. "Maybe she really handled the gun," he said.
Earlier in the trial, a marriage counselor who saw the White couple eight times together and about eight times each individually said that Amy White wound up wanting to end the marriage, while Tyler White went elsewhere for counseling, according to the Bluffton News-Banner.
Bluffton Police Chief Tammy Schaffer read a deposition given by Katie Kunkle, who had dated Tyler White in mid-2009, and, as the News-Banner summed up, Kunkle said White "always carried a gun, either under the seat of his car or in the waistband behind his back. The gun was always loaded. Tyler White never gave a reason for carrying the gun."
Defense testimony came from Matt and JaNae Reinhard, friends of the Whites. Matt Reinhard said he was at the first meeting between Tyler White and Lee Flueckiger, who was dating Amy White while the Whites were separated.
Reinhard said the meeting was not confrontational, according to the Bluffton newspaper story, and lasted about five minutes.
JaNae Reinhard's testimony came in a deposition read by police chief Schaffer and was about a night that the Whites spent at the Reinhard couple's home as the Whites were trying to save their marriage.
Tthe Bluffton paper summed up Mrs. Reinhard's testimony, "Tyler White arrived [at the Reinhard home] in the afternoon to cook and arrange a romantic dinner." The Whites left the following morning, but Reinhard's recollections were that the Whites slept apart the night they stayed over.
Trent White, Tyler's brother, testified that his brother and his wife "were fighting and arguing all the time" and the Bluffton paper described his remembrances of meetings with the couple as "unpleasant."
Trent White also stated that his brother always carried a handgun.