Dean Testifies Death Was by Suicide During Day Five of Brown County Murder Trial

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 13, 2021 at 4:33pm

The defense continued to present its case in the John Michael Dean murder trial in Mt Sterling Monday with the accused taking the stand this afternoon.

42-year-old John Michael Dean took the stand this afternoon in Brown County Court. Dean testified that on the night of June 14th, his live-in girlfriend Rebecca Niewohner committed suicide and he then tried to take his own life.

Dean testified that he and Niewohner moved in together in the Spring of 2017, during which time he became aware that she had issues with anxiety and was seeing a local psychologist for help.

Dean testified that on the night of her death, tensions rose between the two with both of them making heated comments at the other. He said he had his 1911 handgun on the counter to check the fit of a scope he had repaired earlier in the day, and that after he moved around a counter in the kitchen to retrieve a bottle opener is when he heard Niewhoner rack the gun to load a round into the chamber.

He says he turned and found her holding the gun against the right side of her head, and after he told her she wasn’t going to do anything and to put the gun down, she fired.

Dean says he was overcome with grief feeling guilty that he had made the comments that he felt caused her to lose her control. He said he was worried most for Niewohner’s young daughter who lived part-time with the couple. He said it was then that he decided to take his own life.

Dean testified that he called a close friend to tell him that Becky was dead and that it was his fault. He said he wanted someone other than Niewwohner’s daughter to find their bodies before she came over the next morning. He says he then picked up the gun from the counter, which he had already removed from Niewohner’s hand, placed it under his chin, and pulled the trigger.

Dean testified earlier that he had taught Niewohner how to use the firearm and that even though she was left-handed, she learned how to use the gun with her right hand because the gun was set up for a right-handed person, and ejected the spent rounds out the left side, which caused them to fly out in front of her face.

Dean’s mother and father also both testified in court this morning, with Carole Dean testifying that it was not until April 18th of 2020 that John Michael Dean told her that Niewohner had taken her own life. Carole Dean said her son never said one way or the other until she pressed him about the issue after they relieved a preliminary pathology report stating that suicide could not be ruled out. Carole Dean said the next day after telling her that he shot Neiwohner, that he came to her and his father telling them that he lied and she had committed suicide.

When pressed by the prosecution why he waited so long to say that it was a suicide, John Michael Dean said that until the reports began to come out, everyone thought it was an accident and he wanted to protect Neiwohner’s daughter from knowing what happened.

The trial continues on Tuesday with the defense set to call at least one more witness to the stand. Closing arguments in the case could come as early as Wednesday morning.