A Fulton man charged last month with fatally shooting his 14-year-old classmate in 1991 in Cole County was denied bond during a court hearing Monday.
William Christopher Niemet, 43, appeared via video from the Cole County Jail during a hearing before Cole County Associate Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker.
Niemet's attorney, Curtis Hanrahan, also waived a preliminary hearing on the charge of first-degree murder his client faces. Hanrahan said Niemet is pleading not guilty to the charge. Walker then sent his case on to the circuit court division where Judge Dan Green is scheduled to hear the case later this month.
Hanrahan had asked Walker during Monday's hearing to consider giving his client a bond of $100,000, which could be posted with cash, property or as a surety bond.
A surety bond is an agreement by a criminal defendant to appear for trial or pay a sum of money set by the court. The bail bond is cosigned by a bail bondsman, who charges the defendant a fee in return for guaranteeing the payment.
Hanrahan told Walker: "My client operates several businesses, seven to eight restaurants, employing approximately 700 people, located in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois. A $100,000 bond would put a crimp in his finances, but it could be done."
The Secretary of State's Online Business Filing website shows Niemet as owner of CNZ Enterprises of Quincy LLC and GCRE of Columbia LLC.
Hanrahan said they would also be willing to surrender Niemet's passport and his client could be kept on house arrest with an ankle monitor and agree not to leave the state.
During Monday's hearing, Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson called Richard Lee, Cole County pre-trial coordinator, to the stand. The pre-trial screening program is designed to help judges determine which defendants should be bonded and supervised rather than jailed before a trial.
Lee testified their assessment showed Niemet scored a "2" out of a possible high of "9."
"However, this is an unusual case as the actual crime this person is charged for happened 30 years ago," Lee said. "If he were to be released, due to the nature of the charge, we would ask for the GPS monitoring."
Hanrahan noted his client has only had one conviction that showed up in Lee's assessment. That was a driving while impaired in Morgan County, and Hanrahan said Niemet had successfully completed the probation he had been placed on for pleading guilty to that charge.
"My client has a family, is a business owner and has no mental health issues," Hanrahan said. "If he were allowed to be on release, he will be here in court whenever he's required."
Thompson told Walker, "the state intends at trial to offer evidence that we believe the defendant (Niemet) took steps to tamper with evidence and witnesses to the crime, but that information wasn't available to authorities at the time of the crime."
Thompson also told the judge they have evidence indicating Niemet had been evading authorities who were trying to serve a garnishment on him before his arrest in the case.
"If he would run from something like that, what's there to keep him from running on this charge?" Thompson asked. "If he were released, then witnesses in this case would be in danger."
Although they didn't testify, Thompson did indicate there were people in the courtroom who had ties to the case who, "ask that you (Walker) keep Mr. Niemet in jail without bond."
Authorities believe Niemet killed Greg Jones, who was 14 at the time when his body was found in June 1991 near a branch of the Moreau River near Russellville. That ended a search that began after his parents called authorities when their son was two hours late for supper April 24, 1991.
An autopsy found Jones was shot twice in the head.
Niemet, who was 14 at the time, and Jones were classmates, Thompson said. He was one of several people questioned in the shooting.
Because he was a juvenile at the time, Niemet had to go through juvenile court processes before authorities could certify him to be tried as an adult.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information to contact authorities. Thompson attributed the arrest in part to advancements in technology since 1991.
The Cole County Sheriff's Department probable cause statement filed when Niemet was charged does not indicate a motive and does not indicate the gun used in the killing was recovered. It does note ammunition was recovered at Niemet's residence that matched the type of rounds recovered in Jones' skull.
The probable cause statement also states deputies interviewed several witnesses, "claiming Niemet claimed responsibility for the murder of Greg Jones with three witnesses reporting Niemet told them about the murder."