Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge started off the with a stern warning for everyone in the courtroom: “I’ve been informed by security there was an ugly incident where some people were changing some things at the jury” on Friday, the judge went on to say the court has increased security and will not tolerate any obstructions of justice like this.
The first witness called Tuesday was Nicole Brant, ex-girlfriend of Shane Zimmerman—Lintz’s roommate in Cass County prison. Brant briefly sat in the witness stand and explained how Zimmerman talked to her about a plan to get information for Keith Lintz.
Up next was James Fagley, 35, a childhood friend of Lintz and his older brother Brian.
“I knew him (Keith) pretty well, I knew his brother better” he said.
The questioning quickly focused in on a road trip to Tennessee that the witness, Lintz and his brother and a fourth man, Bill, took to to see the mother of Fagley’s children and his kids.
“During the day I hung out with my kids, at night I partied” Fagley testified.
At some point during that trip in 2010, the conversation shifted to discussing the homicides on Carberry Road back home in Michigan.
“You know, I mean at that point it was such a big conversation that everybody talked about it,” Fagley testified. However he could not remember the exact dates or persons involved in that discussion.
“Was the term ‘snapped’ used?” asked prosecutors.
“Yes,” Fagley replied. When asked in what context “snapped” was used in that conversation, the witness responded that—to his best recollection—Lintz told him “I just snapped.” It was in that same conversation they were discussing the Tarwacki double homicide. He later said he remembered Lintz saying he “just snapped,” and that he “took them out of their misery.”
Fagley went on to re-enact the gesture which he claimed Lintz made when describing the murders.
“You’re making an imaginary trigger?” asked the prosecution, “yes” the witness replied.
But Fagley insisted he couldn’t recall the timeline of conversations during that trip to Tennessee perfectly. He claimed much of the conversations they had occurred while they were intoxicated.
He described Lintz as “depressed,” and after sketches of the suspect in the Tarwacki murders circulated he recalled showing the picture to Lintz who just “shook his head.”
The third witness called, Ryan Dillard, said he met and spent time with Lintz in Tennessee. He testified having a conversation with Lintz about tattoos and gangs they were affiliated with.
“I took it as, he was coming here from another place, just trying to make friends,” said Dillard.
According to the witness, Lintz claimed “they” went into a house to quote, “hit a lick” and were caught. From that point on Lintz said he blacked out and could only remember coming back to cognition and seeing two people dead.
But that same witness said he didn’t believe Lintz at the time and thought he was only trying to fit in and impress him. It wasn’t until later, he testified, that he started to believe Lintz could have been capable of murder.
The prosecution moved to introduce testimony from a woman who allegedly was beaten by Lintz. Prosecutors said the victim’s account would explain what caused Lintz to leave Tennessee and return home. However, the judge barred any reference to the assault or that witness testimony for being prejudicial.
Mehl was allowed to take the stand after a short recess, with the instruction that should could not directly talk about the assault. She explained how she and Fagley were a couple for several years, but she had since moved to Nashville with their children.
She confirmed that in the summer of 2010 her ex and three of his friends visited her on short notice and she allowed them to stay in the bottom floor of her duplex. After one or two weeks everyone left, but at that point she said Lintz’s brother asked if Lintz could stay with her a little longer.
Keith didn’t want to go back to Michigan and had Brian plea on his behalf to let him stay with Mehl in Nashville—she agreed.
“We became friends,” Mehl testified. She helped him get a job at the same place that she worked and for a while things were fine until she started hearing rumors from her neighbors that Lintz was going around saying he murdered someone.
“I asked him, I said: Keith, what’s going on?” testified Mehl, “I’m hearing things from the neighbors about you killing people and crazy stuff like that. He kind of stared for a minute. And I was like, are you messing around, are you trying to be cool? And he said ‘Don’t worry it’s in Michigan.’ And I said, ‘what’s in Michigan? You killed someone in Michigan?’ And he said ‘no, I killed two people in Michigan.’”
According to Mehl, Lintz then said: ‘don’t worry, all they have is my footprints, they’ll never find me. The state of Michigan is too stupid to find me.’”
Overall the witnesses on Tuesday helped prosecutors establish Lintz as a dangerous and boastful man.
One in particular knew Lintz in prison and informed police when he started talking about how angry he was at his girlfriend and cellmate for turning over evidence to the state. He testified Lintz threatened to kill them and said things like “I can’t stand that b****.”
The last few testimonies were from passerbys and women who saw a suspicious looking man, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans walking along the roadway near Carberry Rd. around the time of the murders.
While the prosecution attempted to link the three different accounts together, the defense focused on discrepancy in the estimated height of the suspect in the women’s accounts; as well as highlighting the lack of visual identification of a face.
With no further witnesses to call, court recessed just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.