Friday, September 17, 2010

Benton, IL: Acquaintance Claims Sandefur Planned Murder

BENTON -- The witness who says a West Frankfort teen plotted his girlfriend's murder took the stand Thursday. Devin Birckhead, 17, of West Frankfort, claims he overheard the defendant, Austin Sandefur, 18, of West Frankfort, talk about shooting his girlfriend the day before she died.

Sandefur's attorney, Eric Dirnbeck, would not let who he called the state's star witness get off easy. Dirnbeck called Birckhead out on what time he heard the conversation, to how close he was to Sandefur when he said it.

Birckhead testified that he heard Austin Sandefur saying, "he was gonna shoot some girl at a house."

Birckhead told the court he was sitting about two or three feet from Sandefur. Defense attorney Eric Dirnbeck asked Birckhead how that was possible, since there was a soda machine, doorway and several feet of space between the two.

Dirnbeck also challenged the time Birckhead gave. He told the court that only a couple people were in the restaurant because lunch was almost over. But the time he gave of 11:50 a.m. was only a third of the way through the lunch period.

Sandefur's attorney asked Birckhead why he didn't say anything that day.

Devin responded, "The reason I didn't tell anybody is because most people do things to get attention."

The defense asked Birckhead what kind of attention he was getting for his claims against Sandefur. Birckhead said "none" at first, but that he received phone calls and threats.

Several friends of Elizabeth Obrecht also testified Thursday, talking about her emotions and the days leading up to her death.

Day five of the trial begins at 9 a.m. Friday. The judge says it will likely continue through at least Monday.

By: Jeff Stensland

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