A Brown County murder trial is set to begin in September. John M Dean of Mt. Sterling has been on home confinement since last June after he was charged as the primary suspect in the shooting death of 44 year old Rebecca Niewhoner. Dean is accused of shooting Niewhoner to death with a .45 caliber handgun on June 14th, 2019 in the 400 block of East Chestnutt Street in Mt. Sterling. Dean was found in the home with Niewhoner’s body with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face.
Brown County State’s Attorney Mark Vincent says that the trial is being delayed to September due to a request for continuance by Dean’s counsel. He says that the court is now going to look at selecting a jury amid the restrictions of COVID-19. “I know some circuits and some courts have had jury trials here in the last several weeks, and there are some ways that we can keep jurors separated during the jury selection process. We may be examining them in groups of 4, or individually. There’s different options we have been discussing. Nothing has been decided yet. I think the judge is probably waiting to see how things are going now with the trial being in September. We will see what precautions we are still under by then.”
Dean is also facing a civil trial for damages in Niewhoner’s death. Kraig Niewhoner, the deceased’s ex-husband and father of their child together, is seeking unspecified damages in the separate trial. Kraig Niewhoner filed the summons for the civil suit on Monday, June 8th.
Vincent says that Dean remains on home confinement. “He is out on bail with conditions of home confinement. He has to wear a GPS tracker. He’s not allowed to use social media, computers, or things like that. He is allowed to go to doctor’s appointments and medical appointments. He’s had several surgeries over the last year as a result of his self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Dean’s surgeries along with the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed delays in the year-old case. Vincent says he is eager to get to trial and have it resolved. Dean plead not guilty to the murder in his last appearance in court on May 21st. Dean’s defense team was granted access to Rebecca Niewhoner’s cellphone and given leeway to seek expert analysis on the firearm and magazine in question. A July 22nd pre-trial date is set in the case prior to going to trial in September. July 22nd is Dean’s final day to turn in a change of plea in the case.