Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 6, 2014

Accused's man sister focus of closing arguments in Yoder case

EFFINGHAM — Elizabeth Walters was the main topic of closing arguments Friday in the first-degree murder trial of Charles Douglas Yoder.

Yoder, 53, has been standing trial in Effingham County Circuit Court this week in connection with the May 7, 2013, stabbing death of Ted L. Debany. Debany, 52, had been sharing a home with Walters, Yoder's younger half-sister, at the time of his death.

Walters was the key prosecution witness in the trial of her half-brother.

In their respective closing arguments, State's Attorney Bryan Kibler and Public Defender Scott Schmidt differed wildly on their characterization of Walters' credibility.

Kibler conceded that Walters probably won't become the pillar of the community anytime soon. But Kibler maintained that Walters was telling the truth when she told police that Yoder stabbed Debany after an altercation between Debany and another man at their home.

"Elizabeth Walters may be a lot of things, but liar is not one of them," Kibler said. "She may be on too many pain medications, and she may spend too much time mixing alcohol with those meds.

"She may not even be somebody you would want over at your home for Sunday dinner," Kibler added. "But ultimately, she's telling the truth about the most important detail in this case."

Kibler said Walters' credibility was bolstered by circumstantial evidence in the case.

"Play the game of process of elimination. Once you play that game, it's clear that only one man could have done it, and it's that man," said Kibler, as he pointed at Yoder, who has been impeccably dressed in a suit and tie throughout this week's proceedings.

Kibler said Walters should be eliminated as a suspect because she stayed at her home in an effort to care for Debany after the stabbing. Likewise, he said, Clifford Arnett — the man identified as the victim of an attack by Debany shortly before the stabbing — should also be eliminated.

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