Jurors see autopsy results, Tim’s search history on day 4 of Bliefnick trial

Day 4 of Timothy Bliefnick trial
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:50 AM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 12:48 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The jury trial of Timothy Bliefnick, the Quincy man being charged with fatally shooting his estranged wife continued Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Remarks from counsel prior to the jury’s entry

Friday morning’s court proceedings in the murder trial of Timothy Bliefnick began with prosecutors outlining what the day and next Tuesday would look like.

Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said Friday would include some autopsy results and testimony from approximately two crime lab witnesses.

Afterward, Jones made a motion to admit pictures from the autopsy to the jury. Schnack objected, stating the photos were excessively graphic, prejudice and would only add sympathy for the victim.

Jones said the pictures detail the entrance and exit wounds of the projectiles that went through Rebecca Bliefnick’s body. Jones said they indicate Bliefnick was shot primarily when she was already on the ground or falling down.

Judge Robert Adrian said the state would be allowed to admit the photos to the jury pending they have laid a proper foundation. Photos yesterday detailed Bliefnick’s body the way it was found on Feb. 23. Adrian said the photos will not be published for the entire courtroom to see.

The court went into recess prior to the jury entering at 9 a.m.

Jones anticipates calling our crime lab witnesses to the stand on Tuesday, one witness from California, and another detective.

The science behind Rebecca’s gunshot wounds

Dr. Scott Denton has been a forensic pathologist since 1996. He’s performed more than 12,000 autopsies in his career, including Rebecca Bliefnick. During Bliefnick’s autopsy, he took hundreds of photos.

Some photos were published to the court, some were not.

During Dr. Denton’s testimony, photos detailed Bliefnick wearing black compression surgical pants and a surgical compression pad on her torso. Denton said Bliefnick sustained nine gunshot wounds to her torso alone, but not all were immediately fatal. He testified that she could have been alive several minutes after the intruder left her home.

Denton said the mechanism of death was internal bleeding, as Bliefnick had almost no blood in her vessels. Because of the compression pad, he said it wasn’t surprising there wasn’t much blood on the floor next to her body. Denton said this would have been an extremely painful death.

Trajectory rods in Bliefnick’s hand indicated a projectile also entered the back of her hand, exiting through her palm. Denton called this a defensive wound.

Denton also performed a sexual assault kit. He claims Bliefnick was not sexually assaulted. During cross-examination, Denton said he cannot scientifically tell which bullet entered her body first or last.

Denton was released from his subpoena.

Fingerprints, guns and shell casings

Two witnesses from Illinois State Police testified shortly before the court went into morning recess at 9:55 a.m.

ISP’s Trent Karhliker testified exclusively on fingerprints. He was part of the crew that tested for fingerprints in this case. Karhliker claims no latent prints were detected on the window or window frame that was used to gain entry to Rebecca Bliefnick’s home.

Additionally, no prints were found on any shell casings. Due to the curved nature of a shell casing, he said it can be difficult to find any. Karhliker also tested for prints on handguns and ammunition magazines recovered from Timothy Bliefnick’s home. He didn’t find anything.

During cross-examination, Schnack wanted to confirm with Karhliker that no prints whatsoever were detected. He confirmed.

ISP Forensic Science Specialist Lauryn Vunetich confirmed no shell casings found in the victim’s home correlated to any previously unsolved crimes or the handguns found in the defendant’s home.

Vunetich said no two shell casings are the same. She was the 39th witness overall, the third one on Friday.

Timothy’s search history on Feb. 14, less than 10 days before Rebecca was found dead

Immediately out of morning recess, QPD Detective Erik Cowick took the stand. Cowick examined a cell phone that was found behind a bedroom door in Rebecca Bliefnick’s home. Cowick said the last activity on Rebecca’s phone was an attempted 911 call at 1:11 a.m. on Feb. 23.

Cowick said Facebook had been activated since 12:53 a.m.

Cowick also examined a hard drive’s worth of evidence from Timothy Bliefnick’s laptop. Cowick examined thousands of pages worth of search history. Cowick testified there were many searches made on the defendant’s laptop in regards to license plate lookups, vehicle registration lookups, and car ownership history in both Illinois and Missouri.

During direct examination, evidence showed the specific license plate searches matched Rebecca’s significant other’s information. These searches were all made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Feb. 14. Ted Johnson, Rebecca’s significant other, testified on Tuesday that he spent the night at her home that night. As testified earlier this week, Rebecca’s next-door neighbor Taylor Heimann testified his security camera captured a person walking up and down his driveway.

Heimann said those alert notifications came in the very early morning hours of Feb. 14.

At 1:32 a.m. of the same morning, evidence showed a call from the defendant’s phone was made to the Missouri Department of Revenue, which handles vehicle registrations.

A deeper look into Timothy’s search history

Detective Erik Cowick’s testimony continued for well over an hour. Prosecutors pointed out a Facebook account on the defendant’s phone that was identified by the name John Smith. Prosecutors continued by revealing multiple text messages between the account and other individuals.

Before prosecutors could do so, Schnack objected. Counsel and the judge went behind closed doors to discuss the matter for around 25 minutes. The jury was dismissed from the room.

Judge Robert Adrian overruled the objection. Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones presented messages between the John Smith account and a Bob Singleton. Evidence showed that a message from Smith described himself as a male in a green zip up jacket with long, brown hair. Cowick confirmed this is the description of the defendant prior to trial.

Similarly, the Smith account inquired to another Facebook user about a 26-inch sized Mongoose mountain bike. Messages show the bike was purchased in Oct. 2022. As testified previously, a similar Mongoose bicycle was found in Bliefnick’s home on March 1. Cowick testified there’s proof that it’s the same bike.

Another Facebook Messenger conversation with Michael Blaesing, who testified yesterday that he sold a blue Schwinn bicycle to a somewhat tall, athletically built man. Cowick compared the bike that was found on Feb. 27 less than half a block from Bliefnick’s home to the bike that was sold on Marketplace. Cowick noted the similar characteristics, suggesting that it’s the same bike. Those include a partially broken kickstand and a scratch on the front fork.

Prosecutors then inquired about Bliefnick’s search history. Schnack objected to the relevancy of those frequently visited sites because there were no dates or times attached. Cowick said the phone had been factory reset in Oct. 2021. Police seized the phone on March 1. That means all searches had to have been made in that time frame.

The phone was password protected. Evidence showed search history such as, “how to open a door with a crowbar,” “lock picking tricks,” “can you just wash off gun residue,” and “are shotgun rounds traceable?”

More searches asked how many cops were employed at QPD, how to open a window from the outside and how to make a homemade pistol silencer.

During week one of the trial, it was testified that Bliefnick wore a WHOOP Fitness band. More search history shows a search on the defendant’s phone asking “does my WHOOP catch up when I’m not wearing it?”

A picture presented to the jury on Thursday showed Bliefnick wearing it on his wrist the day his home was searched on March 1. Prosecutors said the only time the fitness band was not reporting data was in the early morning hours of Feb. 23 when Rebecca Bliefnick was killed.

Schnack cross-examined. Cowick reconfirmed there’s no way to see who specifically made those searches and they don’t know the location of when the searches were made. They also don’t know the order of the searches.

Cowick was the 40th witness of the trial, and the fourth and final witness Friday.

Court reconvenes Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Live Tweets

No media outlets will be allowed to broadcast or stream the trial live. However, WGEM News will be in the courtroom throughout the trial and will live blog via Twitter.


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