William Henry Meece is charged with three counts of murder, first degree burglary and first degree robbery.
Meece is accused of the 1993 murder of Columbia Veterinarian Joseph Wellnitz, his wife Beth and son Dennis. More than a decade ago, news of this triple murder rocked Columbia, Ky., to the core.
For nearly 10 years, police searched for the person responsible for this heinous crime. It wasn't until 2003 that a jury returned an indictment against the victim's daughter, Margaret Wellnitz Appleton, and her boyfriend William Meece. Appleton admitted to plotting to kill her family, but later recanted her story, saying she had no knowledge of the murders until after they happened.
During opening statements, the prosecution told jurors Meece's motive for killing the Wellnitz family was money.
"This wasn't just a random act of violence. This wasn't a crime of passion, it wasn't a burglary that went wrong, it was a planned murder for money, a planned murder for hire."
Prosecutors told jurors Meece purchased a gun, consistent with the murder weapon, 18 days before the murder. The gun was never found because prosecutors say Meece threw it away, along with his gloves and clothing, at a McDonald's in Campbellsville, Ky.
The trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks, is scheduled to resume the morning of Thurs., Aug. 31, 2006, at the Warren County Justice Center.