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‘Absolutely not guilty’: Attorney for 1991 murder suspect doubts new evidence

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

William "Chris" Niemet appeared in court for the first time Monday since he was charged with a 1991 murder of a teenager last week.

Niemet, of Fulton, was 15 at the time of the shooting death of classmate Greg Jones. He appeared by live video in Judge Cotton Walker’s courtroom to discuss his bond.

His attorney, Curtis Hanrahan, said in court that Niemet has been in the Cole County Jail for 10 days with no bond. Hanrahan requested Walker set Niemet’s bond at $100,000, adding they would be willing to meet any additional conditions for release.

Those conditions, for example, could include house arrest or other travel restrictions.

Niemet runs a business in and out of Missouri, Hanrahan said, that employs about 700 people. Refusing Niemet a bond would put financial pressure on the company and its employees, Hanrahan said to Walker in court.

Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson charged Niemet with murder on Thursday after he was arrested the week prior. It took several days for the case to be transferred to Walker’s docket because it was initially filed in juvenile court because of Niemet’s age at the time of the killing.

Thompson was out of town for Monday’s hearing, but an assistant prosecutor who appeared for the state said prosecutors are working on getting people affected by Jones’ death to testify against setting a bond for Niemet. 

Walker set a follow-up hearing for March 9. Prosecutors have until then to organize victim statements, he said.

Hanrahan told ABC 17 News after the hearing that Niemet will enter a plea of not guilty.

"Chris (Niemet) is absolutely not guilty," Hanrahan said. "You have the tragedy of a 14-year-old man that lost his life and now accusing an innocent man who was 15 at the time. That doesn't make things better, it just gives us more tragedy."

Authorities found Jones' body with two bullet wounds in his head near his home in 1991. Niemet was arrested shortly after in connection with the death. Those charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence, according to a lawsuit Niemet filed against the county. Niemet's lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

Witnesses told authorities that Niemet expressed intent to kill Jones and said Jones would "soon go missing" two weeks prior to the murder. Those details were laid on in a probable cause statement filed last week.

At a news conference last week to announce the charge, Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said Niemet's arrest was immediately preceded by about seven months of investigation.

In terms of new evidence, Thompson only alluded to "advancements in forensic technology that we didn’t have in 1991."

Neither Thompson nor Wheeler explained that new technology, or how it led to an accusation 19 years after Jones' murder.

"We are still actively pursuing those leads," Wheeler said Thursday after Niemet was charged. "We don't want to taint any of that."

Hanrahan said Thompson's office has not yet disclosed any new forensic information that was referred to at Thursday's news conference.

"I suspect that the information or evidence itself may not be new, how (prosecutors) choose to view it, et cetera, maybe the newness to it," Hanrahan said

Anyone with information related to Jones death is asked to contact the Cole County Sheriff's Office.

Cole / Court and Trials / Homicide / Jefferson City / Jefferson City Video / News / Shooting / Top Stories / Video
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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.

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