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27 October 2009

Domestic violence before shooting | CJOnline.com

 

ANTHONY S. BUSH/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

A Shawnee County Sheriff’s deputy walks around the house where Gerald S. Eberhardt, 51, was shot and killed on Sunday. The sheriffs department still has the house at 2835 S.E. Shawnee Heights Rd. taped off with crime scene tape as of 2 p.m. Monday.

 

Deputies dispatched 14 times this year to home where man was shot

By Ann Marie Bush

Created October 26, 2009 at 3:57pm

Updated October 27, 2009 at 12:10am

TECUMSEH -- Shawnee Heights Fire Department's water rescue team on Monday evening located a piece of evidence around Lake Shawnee involving a shooting death of a 51-year-old Topeka business owner, authorities said.

Gerald S. Eberhardt, who owned Wizz By Auto Sales in North Topeka, was pronounced dead Sunday morning at his home, 2538 S.E. Shawnee Heights Road, in southeast Topeka, said Sheriff Richard Barta. Two of his family members -- his wife, Michelle L. Eberhardt, 43, and her son Scott M. Mosher, 19, who lived with Gerald Eberhardt -- and Stephanie A. Menard, 21, of Topeka, were arrested Sunday evening.

On Monday, a fourth person, 20-year-old Derrick Dewayne Haase, of Topeka, was arrested. All four on Monday were charged with premeditated murder in the first degree, an off-grid person felony, and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder in the first degree, a severity-level 2 person felony.

Barta said Monday more arrests could be made.

"On the surface, it appears to be a domestic problem," Barta said Monday afternoon at a news conference.

Since January 2009, deputies have responded to the Eberhardts' house 14 times, Barta said, including five times for domestic reasons.

"We have responded to that residence numerous times," he said.

A neighbor said she has noticed several sheriff's vehicles at the residence in the past month, but she also said the area is usually fairly quiet.

At the news conference, Barta also said law enforcement officers were searching for a weapon used in the crime Monday at an undiclosed location. He didn't go into further detail.

The house remained a crime scene Monday and wasn't scheduled to be released until Monday night, Barta said.

On Monday afternoon, a deputy patrolled the perimeter of the home on foot and a crime scene investigation van was sitting in front. Yellow crime scene tape was stretched around the residence.

"Our investigation from top to bottom is very thorough," Barta said.

Michelle Eberhardt made a 911 call Sunday shortly before 3 a.m., the sheriff said, but he wouldn't elaborate. He did say deputies knew something was wrong at the scene when they discovered "it was not a suicide."

Gerald Eberhardt was pronounced dead at the scene.

A search warrant was obtained for the house, which sits north of a Shawnee Heights Fire District station, and an investigation began.

"Numerous interviews have been conducted," Barta said. "These people have been interviewed extensively. The individuals, at this time, have been cooperative."

Dakota Loomis, a spokesman for the Shawnee County District Attorney's office, told a judge Monday that Mosher confessed to shooting Eberhardt. Mosher was being held on $750,000 bond.

Michelle Eberhardt and Haase were being held on $300,000 bond, while Menard was held on $200,000 bond.

Barta said Haase and Mosher were acquaintances and were known gang members. The defendants didn't have legal representation when they appeared before a judge via a live secure video feed from the jail.

Loomis said Mosher and Haase were members of a Topeka gang affiliated with the Folks Nation, a larger collection of gangs that operate throughout the Midwest. However, Barta said investigators see no reason that the shooting was "gang-related."

Mosher has a history of violence, including a conviction in September for domestic battery, court records show. In that case, Eberhardt paid $114 in court and probation fees for her son.

Haase was sentenced in June to 90 days in jail for a domestic battery charge and was given credit for time served. He remained on probation.

A six-month period in 2005 highlights a tumultuous relationship between Gerald Eberhardt and his wife, court records show.

A peek at court records shows a history of violence for Gerald Eberhardt -- at least 15 criminal cases filed against him in the last 17 years. Many of them were for battery against a law enforcement officer. Many others were for domestic battery.

In July 2005, he was arrested for domestic violence and witness intimidation of Michelle Eberhardt. One month later, in August 2005, she filed for divorce. In September, he was formally charged with the crimes.

But by December of that year, Michelle Eberhardt had changed her mind about divorce, and she withdrew her petition. One month later, in January 2006, Gerald Eberhardt was convicted of the domestic battery charge.

They weren't the first domestic battery convictions for the man. In 1998, he pleaded no contest to the charge, and in 1999, he was found guilty by a jury of domestic battery and criminal restraint.

That all led to the 2006 conviction, which netted him one year in county jail.

A white piece of paper was taped in the window of Wizz By Auto Sales, 1316 N.W. Topeka Blvd., on Monday notifying customers that the business was closed because of a death in the family.

Capital-Journal staff writer James Carlson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Domestic violence before shooting | CJOnline.com




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