Man accused of killing West Chester woman wants funds to pay for review of devices

Attorneys for a Liberty Twp. man charged in the death of a woman who was found dead in a Millikin Road field were in court Wednesday requesting an expert to review data taken from multiple devises and the release of the victim’s medical records.

Michael Strouse, of Bluffs Drive, was indicted in September 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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Strouse was in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday for a hearing to consider several motions filed by his attorneys Kyle Rapier and Jeff Bowling. Another hearing on a motion to suppress evidence is scheduled for later this month.

The defense team requested the judge approve funds to hire a forensic expert and allow them to view the “cell phones, computers, digital recorders, cameras, hard drives, flash drives and memory cards” gathered as evidence.

“Defendant has reason to believe the confiscated devices will provide evidence that directly contradicts the state’s menacing by stalking allegation…” according to the defense.

Bowling said Strouse’s family was able to retain his representation but Strouse is indigent and has no funds of his own for an expert assistance

The defense has received thousands of pages of documents and thumb drives with information, some of it “very technical for which we believe an expert is required to assist us,” Bowling said. That includes information taken from both computers and cell phones taken from both Strouse’s and Weik’s residences.

Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich said Strouse is not entitled to a “blank check.”

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“The defendant has secured private counsel and is essentially asking the citizens of Butler County to pay for his expert to mount his defense … he must prove that expert provides a particularized need,” Muennich said.

Howard took the matter under advisement, saying he did not see a particular need at this point for a defense expert because not all discovery has been turned over or reviewed by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The defense also requested the release of Weik’s medical and physiological records to the court so that they could be reviewed for exculpatory evidence.

Bowling said an autopsy report for Weik is inconclusive.

“We have also reviewed the statement taken from our client and there are theories as to what may or may not have occurred. Mr. Strouse is accused of stalking as well as premeditated murder. We believe the medication may show a contribution to death,” Bowling said.

Bowling said Weik showed signs of depression and anxiety and was seeking therapy around the time she went missing.

“All of which goes to a theory of how she may have potentially met her demise in this case,” he said.

Muennich said whether Weik was depressed isn’t relative as to who killed her.

Howard ruled the state would get the physiological records and turn them over to the defense but declined to do the same for the medical record because an autopsy report was already in hand.

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West Chester police say Strouse, 29, is responsible for the death of Weik at his Liberty Twp. home, located about one-quarter of a mile from the field where her body was found. Strouse was charged with murder on Aug. 25.

Weik, 23, went missing from her West Chester Township home on July 29. Her mother reported her missing on Aug. 1, according to the West Chester police.

Strouse’s trial is scheduled to begin April 1.

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