A death row inmate who was convicted of murder in his girlfriend's killing in Dorchester County will get a new sentencing hearing, according to a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling released Wednesday.
This case is the third Dorchester County death penalty sentence reversed or sent back for resentencing by a higher court within the last year.
John Edward Weik, 47, of Moncks Corner was sentenced to death for the 1998 shooting of Susan Hutto Krasae at her Knightsville home.
During the sentencing hearing, Weik's defense attorneys presented three mental health experts who testified Weik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, including hallucinations, paranoid delusions and suicidal thoughts.
The defense, however, didn't present evidence concerning Weik's "chaotic upbringing and dysfunctional family," according to the ruling.
In the Supreme Court opinion, which was unanimous, Justice John Kittredge said that since this information was not provided during the hearing, they are forced to reverse a lower court judge's ruling denying a new sentencing hearing.
Weik's childhood was traumatic and he was emotionally and physically abused by his father, Russell Weik, according to the Supreme Court ruling.
"Indeed, one mitigation specialist with forty years of experience described Weik's family as the most dysfunctional family she had ever encountered," the ruling said.
Despite presenting a lot of information about Weik's troubled past, defense attorneys only presented one witness, Weik's sister, to testify briefly about his upbringing, according to the ruling.
Justice Kittredge referred to the testimony as limited and lacking specifics.
The case will be sent back to the 1st Circuit Solicitor's Office to prepare for a sentencing hearing.
David Pascoe, the current solicitor, said in cases like this one, the hearing will be lengthy and could take weeks at a time.
"You basically have to retry the case," he said.
Pascoe said it is too premature to determine whether or not they will again seek the death penalty or life in prison.
The family must be consulted, according to Pascoe.
Amber, Krasae's daughter, who was 8 years old at the time, testified during the trial that she saw Weik shoot her mother.
A burglary charge was one of two aggravating factors the state used to seek the death penalty in 1999. The other was physical torture, which the 1st Circuit solicitor at the time, Walter Bailey, defined as "prolonging the suffering of a murder victim."
In his confession, Weik said he fired at least four shotgun blasts into Krasae.
Bailey told The Post and Courier his heart goes out to Krasae's family.
"I feel sorry for the family that put this behind them almost a generation ago and have to go through this again," Bailey said.
He said Weik shot Krasae several times in places so she would not die immediately.
"He basically tortured her," Bailey said.
If the jury had heard more testimony about Weik's upbringing, as suggested by the S.C. Supreme Court, Bailey said it likely would not have made a difference in their recommendation of the death penalty.
"They heard a lot of testimony," he said. "I'm just not convinced it would have affected the outcome of the case."
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.