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Man Charged in Killing Over Amish Prank

September 17, 2003|From Associated Press

HOLMESVILLE, Ohio — A family friend was charged with murder Tuesday in the shooting of a man who was throwing tomatoes at passing vehicles from a cornfield, a traditional prank in the Amish community.

Marion D. Weaver, 58, drove his car past the field several times, deputies said. After the vehicle was hit repeatedly by tomatoes, he fired several rounds from a shotgun blindly into the cornstalks, Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly said.

The shooting death of Steven L. Keim, 23, shocked the Amish community of Mount Hope, about 60 miles south of Cleveland. He was hiding in the cornfield with about 10 others, ages 15 to 23, who told authorities they were throwing tomatoes and firing paintball guns.

Keim's family was Amish when he was born, but they later became Mennonites.

The victim's father said Weaver was a family friend.

"I don't really know how I feel," Reuben Keim, 48, said from the front porch of his house in Orrville. "I've known him close to 30 years. He went fishing with the whole family up on Lake Erie. Stevie shot trap with him. I'm sure he didn't realize that Stevie was in there."

Weaver was arrested after his release from a hospital earlier Tuesday. Authorities would not say why he was hospitalized. But Keim said Weaver recently had stents implanted in arteries near his heart.

Police found several shotguns in a search of Weaver's house, and a gray Cadillac belonging to Weaver that matched witness descriptions, said Steve Knowling, a Holmes County prosecutor.

Four 12-gauge shotgun shells found at the cornfield were fired from one of the shotguns, Knowling said.

Weaver was being held on $250,000 bond. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison.

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