COLUMBIA (AP) — The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a man on South Carolina’s death row for killing the mother of his child, ruling that his trial attorneys should have presented more evidence about his background and mental health history.
John Edward Weik was convicted in 1999 in the shotgun slaying of 27-year-old Susan Hutto Krasae at her home in Knightsville. She was the mother of Weik’s son, Daniel.
At the time, the Moncks Corner man confessed that he fired at least four shotgun blasts into Krasae, and it took a Dorchester County jury under an hour to sentence him to death. The woman’s 8-year-old daughter by her ex-husband testified that she saw Weik shoot her mother.
Weik appealed, arguing that he was not competent to stand trial and saying his sentence was too harsh in light of his mental problems. The justices disagreed in a 2002 ruling denying his first appeal.
The appeal on which the court ruled Wednesday had to do with Weik’s allegations that his trial attorneys made mistakes that ultimately landed him on death row. According to the court, Weik told police that he heard voices in his head just before the shooting and thought he was being monitored by law enforcement agencies and the Masons.
During the penalty phase of the trial, during which jurors decided if Weik would get life in prison or the death penalty, defense attorneys only called one witness, his sister, who testified briefly about his abusive upbringing.
“The defense, however, failed to present readily available evidence concerning Weik’s chaotic upbringing and dysfunctional family,” the court wrote.