Daniel Lieske shot man after he was attacked, lawyer says as murder trial begins

January 10, 2019
Daniel Lieske, left, listens to testimony at his murder trial Tuesday with his lawyer, Dennis Burke.

Daniel Lieske was attacked in an apartment bathroom adjoining his rural Marshall home by Jesse Faber, then shot Faber to death and hid Faber’s body because he was afraid of the consequences, his lawyer told jurors Tuesday during opening statements at Lieske’s trial.

Dennis Burke said Faber told Lieske, “’I don’t want a job, I rob people,’” as the two sat together early on Jan. 16 in an apartment that adjoins the unit on Box Elder Road where Lieske lived with his longtime girlfriend, Meichelle Goss.

A short time later, Burke said, as Lieske was in the bathroom, Faber attacked Lieske from behind, and Lieske believed that Faber, 21, was trying to grab the gun that Lieske often kept holstered to his waist.

But experts will testify that gunshot wounds to Faber’s body were mainly to his back and were inflicted from very close range, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told the jury of six men and eight women.

Lieske, 60, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly shooting Faber to death. Lieske maintains that he shot Faber in self defense.

Lieske’s attorney has been working to put Faber in the worst possible light, painting him as an unemployed, aggressive drunk who survived by stealing from others.

“There’s a darkness about him,” Burke said, telling the jury about a tattoo that he said Faber had on his arm that read: “Worship the devil.”

But testimony showed that description to be incomplete. The tattoo instead read, “Worship the devil’s fear.” Faber’s father, Daniel Faber, testified that the phrase was his son’s way to say “worship God.”

Faber said his son didn’t attend church, so “that was his way of worshipping God.”

In a ruling Tuesday, Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky said Burke can’t ask certain witnesses about instances of violence by Faber to support Lieske’s self-defense claim. Appellate courts have said that defendants claiming self-defense can ask only about what a defendant believed, Karofsky said. Because Lieske had never met Faber until shortly before shooting him he didn’t know of any violent tendencies Faber might have had, she said.

She said Burke could ask witnesses if they knew of violent behavior by Faber while he was drunk. Witnesses who testified Tuesday didn’t mention any. Coti Igl, who described Faber as a close friend, called Faber a “friendly drunk” unless really annoyed by someone.

Lieske is the caretaker of property owned by the Lee Merrick Foundation, including the adjacent Little Amerricka amusement park.

Ozanne told the jury that on the night of Jan. 15, Faber and others gathered in an apartment at the Box Elder Road property shared by Goss’ son, Matthew Goss, and his sister, Allyssa Goss, where the group drank vodka and wine. They were kicked out around 10:30 p.m. because Allyssa Goss, who was not part of the drinking group, had a final exam at school the next day.

Meichelle Goss took most of the group home to nearby Marshall, Ozanne said. One friend of Matthew Goss stayed at his apartment. Faber, whose home in Sun Prairie, was too far for Meichelle Goss to drive in that night’s slick weather, was sent to sleep on the floor in Lieske’s apartment.

Later that night, Ozanne said, Meichelle Goss heard a commotion in an unoccupied apartment where Lieske and Faber were, and entered it through an interior door between the unit and the apartment she shared with Lieske. She found Faber on his back on the floor and Lieske standing over him, holding a gun.

She left, but a short time later she heard multiple gunshots, Ozanne said. She went back to the unit and saw Faber on the floor with blood pooled around him.

Lieske wrapped Faber in a rug and then in plastic, and took his body first to a shed on an adjoining property, then later to a storage unit in Rio. A search for Faber, who was reported missing by friends and family, failed to find him. Lieske maintained to police that Faber had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and never returned.

Burke said Goss and Lieske tried to hide Faber’s body because they were afraid that if they called police, officers would come and shoot Lieske. The attempt, Burke said, was “a towering monument to bad judgment.”

Lieske eventually admitted to Goss’ mother that he killed Faber, and police later found Faber’s body in the Rio storage locker.

Both Goss and Lieske have pleaded guilty to hiding a corpse to conceal a crime.

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