Jesse L. Livingston

Defendant's outburst interrupts trial

August 9, 2006

An emotional outburst by the defendant interrupted a murder trial Tuesday before the first witness took the stand.

Geraldine A. Livingston began to sob as the Tippecanoe County prosecutor's staff started setting up audio equipment in preparation to play a recording of a 911 call involving the death of her estranged husband, Jesse Livingston.

Judge Don Johnson of Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 dismissed jurors from the courtroom, hoping that Livingston would calm down. But when the prosecutor's staff began playing the 911 recording to test the equipment, the defendant erupted in loud groans. 

Livingston, 43, is charged with murder in connection with the Oct. 21, 2004, fatal shooting of her husband, who had left her two months earlier.

Courthouse bailiffs restrained Livingston, who is in custody, while family members attempted to calm her down. But eventually, she had to be led out of the courtroom.

Johnson dismissed jurors for the day at 2:50 p.m. and will attempt to resume the trial at 8:15 this morning.

He directed the Tippecanoe County Jail staff to have Livingston evaluated by a psychiatrist overnight to see if she can proceed with the trial.

If she is unable to keep her composure, Johnson likely will have to declare a mistrial. The judge told attorneys there's too much at stake in a murder trial to allow it to proceed without the defendant present.

Before opening statements in the case, Graham already had conceded that Livingston had shot her husband. He spent much of his time during jury selection coaching prospective jurors on the difference between murder -- intentionally killing another human being -- and manslaughter, which Indiana law defines as killing another person "in sudden heat."

"It's a manslaughter -- not a murder," Graham told jurors during his opening statement. "This is not a murder. This not a hit. This is not a drive-by. This is not a sniper shooting."

But John Meyers, chief deputy prosecutor, argued there is evidence, including the fact that Livingston bought the .38-caliber handgun nine days before the shooting, that the killing was planned.

Meyers said the evidence would show that Livingston fired four shots at her husband from the doorway to his apartment. One bullet struck him in the chest; another in his back. Two others went into the apartment floor. Then she fled the scene and called her daughter.

Two passersby discovered Jesse Livingston, 29, lying in the doorway of his apartment building in the 1300 block of North 15th Street, calling for help. He died in surgery later at St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

"There's no evidence of anything that could remotely be called provocation" by Jesse Livingston, Meyers said. "His only offense was not wanting to be married to the defendant."

(This was the only information I could find on dear Jesse.  Any other information or memories added to the comments would be appreciated greatly.)

Jan Griffin

St. Joseph County Woman Murdered by Boyfriend

Jan griffin was intentionally run over by boyfriend.  Her boyfriend had just been released from prison after serving 24 years for killing his wife.  Date of this was reported to be on August 14, 2006.  Nothing else is known of the case...if anyone could please add any information by commenting, it would be wonderful.  Thanks.

Cindy Venis

Lebanon man arrested for wife's murder

August 11, 2006

Boone County - A Boone County man is in jail, accused of killing his wife. It happened last night in Lebanon. A short time later, suspect Michael Venis of Lebanon, surrendered to police after a 30-minute standoff.

Just three months ago, 42-year-old Cindy Venis made a plea for her son-in-law, wanted for murder, to turn himself into police.

James Froman was arrested for the murder of a 19-year-old woman. Now as Froman sits in the Boone County jail, he learns that his mother-in-law is now a murder victim. The accused killer is Cindy Venis' husband Michael Venis.

"According to family, they had been discussing, perhaps, getting a divorce and apparently last night, things came to a head," said Lt. Brent Wheat, Lebanon Police Department.

According to the couple's adult daughter, at her parents' Lebanon home, the couple were arguing. Police believe Michael Venis had been drinking. "She stepped out of the kitchen, heard a commotion, then a single gunshot. She ran back inside the kitchen to find her mother had been shot and her father leaving at that point," said Lt. Wheat.

Police spotted Venis' car in Brownsburg where he surrendered after threatening to kill himself in a standoff with police. Investigators recovered the shotgun they say Venis used to kill his wife, shooting her at point blank range in the head.

Now, Michanel Venis is housed in the Boone County jail with his son-in-law, both accused of two separate murders that have torn their family apart.

Police say there's no history of domestic violence, only that the couple had been contemplating divorce recently. Investigators say they recovered the shotgun used in the shooting and that it was in Venis' car.


A jury trial was held October 16 – 19, 2007. The jury heard evidence of the above. Dr. Joseph Czaja, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy of Cindy, testified that she died from a single shotgun injury of the head. According to Dr. Czaja, the shot hit the left side of her head between the eye and the ear, tearing through her skull, and exiting with “a large and gaping” exit wound and “brain matter . . . coming out of the wound.” (Tr. 483). Dr. Czaja testified that muzzle stamping, from a gun held “up against the head in a near, very near contact or close contact” with Cindy’s head, left a visible “impression of the gun.” (Tr. 480, 478). Dr. Czaja testified that Exhibit 26 showed the brain matter extruded as a result of the injury.

Venis took the witness stand and testified that he had “pointed” the gun at Cindy after she “kept hollerin’” at him, pulled the hammer back “to get her attention,” and then “tapped [her] on the temple with the end of the barrel.” (Tr. 626, 625, 626). According to Venis, the gun then accidentally “went off.”

The jury found Venis guilty of murder. Subsequently, the trial court sentenced him to serve a term of fifty-five years.