Murder testimony focuses on shifting story
Between them, Deputy District Attorneys Ladd Wiles and Kate Petersen called 16 witnesses Tuesday and Wednesday.
The prosecution opened with patrol deputies Michael Samerdyke and Justin Schwartz, who testified they encountered Wolfgang when they arrived at the East Rock Creek Road property on Wednesday, April 18, to conduct a welfare check requested by Adelman’s daughter, Melissa Adelman.
According to the testimony, he initially told them the 77-year-old Adelman had gone to the doctor after experiencing chest pains but never returned. However, they noted Adelman’s car remained parked at the property.
In the course of conducting the welfare check, they discovered Adelman’s nude body, which had been dragged into a barn. In a followup visit the next day, a pair of detectives had Wolfgang give them a tour of the property, which they videotaped.
An autopsy showed Adelman had been bludgeoned to death, probably on April 17. That led eventually to the filing of murder charges against Wolfgang.
The prosecution subsequently called Kim Aldrich, a county wastewater inspector, and Marcus Stock, a Stuck Electric employee. Both had been scheduled to meet Adelman at the property on April 17, but were greeted by Wolfgang instead.
Aldrich said Wolfgang told her Adelman had been called away to deal with a family emergency. She said she asked him to have Adelman call her when he returned, but never heard back.
Cox said Wolfgang told him Adelman couldn’t make it because he wasn’t feeling well. He asked Wolfgang to have Adelman reschedule, he said, but had no further contact.
Neighbors Dean and Colleen Lee said they heard another story when they inquired about Adelman.
Dean said Wolfgang told him a group of men claiming to be affiliated with the “Jewish mafia” had come for Adelman.
Wolfgang said they asked Adelman to take a walk with them and he never returned, Dean testified. He said he suggested they take a look around the property in an effort to locate Adelman, but Wolfgang responded, “We don’t need to do that.”
Colleen said Wolfgang told her three adult males, two of them muscular, showed up and ordered him to leave. She said Wolfgang also mentioned the so-called “Jewish mafia” to her, and said Adelman had talked to him about it.
Dvora Temkin of Portland, a longtime friend of Adelman’s, told the court he had confided to her that he wasn’t satisfied with the work Wolfgang was doing. She said he told her Wolfgang’s excuse was a visit from some men in suits who claimed an FBI connection and told him to quit working on the property.
In a recorded interview conducted by detectives Kevin Gardner and Robert Eubanks, Wolfgang said Adelman left his property with three men, one of them “dressed like an older, retired, rich guy.” Adelman did not seem comfortable with them, he said.
During the recorded walk-through, conducted by sheriff’s detectives Kevin Gardner and Robert Eubanks the day after Adelman’s body was discovered, Wolfgang changed his story.
In the recording, played for the court, he said Adelman berated him, triggering a confrontation that turned physical. He said he had struck Adelman about a half dozen times with a piece of wood, perhaps a tree limb.
That was consistent with the autopsy report, but no weapon matching that description turned up at the site.
In the recording, Wolfgang told detectives he grabbed Adelman by the ankles and dragged him from the manufactured home where the killing took place to the barn where his body was discovered. He said he had stripped Adelman of clothing and personal effects, and tossed them into a nearby creek.
Drag marks in matted grass were evident in the video.
The defense maintains detectives coerced Wolfgang into a false confession.