Brown County Murder Trial Under Way

By Benjamin Cox on December 10, 2021 at 1:49pm

The trial of a Brown County man charged in the 2019 shooting death of a well-known substitute teacher in the area continues today.

Jury selection began on Monday in the first-degree murder case of 42 year old John M. Dean of Mt. Sterling. Opening arguments were presented to the seated jury on Tuesday morning. Prosecutors finished presenting their case against Dean yesterday morning.

Dean (Courtesy of the Schuyler Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)

Dean faces the single count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 44 year old Rebecca Niewohner, also of Mt. Sterling. Niewohner had been a regular substitute teacher in the Meredosia and Brown County school districts at the time of her death. First responders found Niewohner dead with a gunshot wound and Dean critically injured in the 400 block of East Chestnut street in Mt. Sterling around 9:20PM on June 14, 2019. Dean was transported by EMS to a Springfield area hospital on the evening of the shooting, where he would spend the next several weeks recovering from a gunshot wound to the face.

In charging documents, Dean is alleged to have shot Niewohner with a .45 caliber handgun without lawful justification and with intent to kill.

Dean spent several weeks in the Schuyler County Jail until he was released on home confinement with GPS ankle monitoring, but was returned to the jail in early April after he was found to have allegedly violated conditions of his conditional home confinement by contacting someone via social media.

Dean has pled not guilty in the case, and remains lodged at the Schuyler County Jail on $1 million bond.

Due to the usage of a handgun in the case creating what’s called an “aggravating factor,” if convicted, Dean could face natural life in prison.

The defense’s case with more witness testimony is expected throughout this afternoon.