INITIAL REPORT, 9:21 a.m., March 12
A plea hearing may happen today in Butler County Common Pleas Court for a Liberty Twp. man charged with the death of a 23-year-old woman who was found dead in a Millikin Road field, according to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.
Michael Strouse, 29, of Bluffs Drive, was indicted in September 2018 for aggravated murder, murder, three counts of tampering with evidence, menacing by stalking, petty theft, abuse of a corpse and gross abuse of a corpse in the death of Ellen “Ellie” Weik. He is being held on $4 million bond.
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“I am expecting it,” said Gmoser of a guilty plea from Strouse. Gmoser declined to give details of the plea.
Last month a suppression hearing was moved to April because 17 hours of interrogation by West Chester Police of Strouse had not been transcribed. The trial date was also moved from April 1 to June 10.
In January, the defense team filed a motion to suppress statements made by Strouse and other evidence, arguing Strouse’s rights had been violated.
West Chester Twp. police interrogated Strouse for eight hours, beginning at 12:10 p.m. Aug. 23, according to the defense.
“Police officers did not advise Mr. Strouse of his Miranda rights until over 30 minutes into the the interrogation. During the interrogation, Mr. Strouse asserted his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney. However, police continued the interrogation,” the defense attorneys wrote in the motion.
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Strouse was released by police at 8:24 p.m., but he asked to leave several times during the interrogation and was ignored, according to the defense.
The next day, police found human remains (later identified by the coroner’s office as Weik) in a farm field near Strouse’s residence.
“At the same time officers arrested Mr. Strouse and drove him to the police station for further interrogation,” according to the motion. “En route to the police station, police officers drove Mr. Strouse by the location where the body was found so that Mr. Srouse could see the activity. This conduct on the part of police officers was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.”
The defense says that Strouse was interrogated for nine hours Aug. 24 without having an attorney available and argues that any statements made after he invoked his right to counsel and evidence discovered as a result should be suppressed.
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West Chester police say Strouse is responsible for the death of Weik at his Liberty Twp. home, about a quarter-mile from the field where her body was found. Strouse was charged with murder on Aug. 25.
Weik went missing July 29 from her West Chester Twp. home. Her mother reported her missing Aug. 1.