Day 2 of double homicide trial still leaves questions on guns and a Sig Sauer pulled from a local river

In opening arguments, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Tom Chaille spoke about a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun pulled from a local river and eventually linked to a double homicide in early December, 2021.

On Wednesday, testimony inched closer to how that gun is central to the murder trial of Tre Zwieg, accused of shooting to death Brendan Cole, 19, and Juan Jose Ramirez, 16, inside a garage on Cumberland Avenue just 200 yards from the apartment where they were all staying on the dime of a young online gamer from Seattle.

Jason Daltoso, an interesting figure in this trial, became friends with Zwieg in early 2021 and moved to Fort Wayne, renting an apartment at 912 Ridgewood Drive. He and his father signed the lease, he said. Now, Daltoso lives in Idaho. He appeared in court Wednesday wearing a tweed jacket, khakis and tan leather sport shoes.

Zwieg moved into Apartment 16 with his girlfriend Kaydence Beachy who’d been friends with Cole for about five or six years. Zwieg and Beachy got the bedroom; Daltoso slept in the living room, later permitting Cole and Ramirez, referred to as Cole’s cousin, to stay as often as they wanted.

In late November, Beachy moved out but still stayed friends with Zwieg and the rest of them. All but Daltoso worked at Arcos restaurant, then located on East Dupont Road.

Inevitably, tensions arose, and Zwieg told Beachy that Daltoso and Cole were “plotting” against him, even though Daltoso said in a text message that he “had his back.” Nothing specific was stated, and when Daltoso was on the stand, he didn’t spell out what the plot was either.

But that’s what Allen County prosecutors think was behind Zwieg’s calculated shooting of the two on Dec. 2, 2021 after he “lured” them to what they thought was an abandoned home with a garage accessed by a breezeway. The home at 740 Cumberland Ave. was about 200 yards away from the apartment complex.

Zwieg was after some chains in the garage, Beachy said. And all three of them liked to wear ski masks, according to Daltoso, who seemed to be tolerant living with so many people and so many guns.

Long-time crime scene technician Alan Garriott described what he and detectives located inside Apartment 16 after police deduced that Zwieg was tied to the killings through an August 2021 traffic stop of both Cole and Zwieg, Zwieg’s residential proximity so close to the crime scene, cell phone evidence and photos and videos of Zwieg posing with guns that he tried to delete.

Garriott said there were two 9mm pistols and an AR-15 in the living room and a magazine for a Sig Sauer handgun. There were also “numerous drug related items” that included marijuana and marijuana products, a smoking pipe, a wax product containing THC and a cell phone. Witnesses on Thursday will explain whose cell phone it was.

In the bedroom was a stocking cap “fashioned” into a ski mask and a laptop computer, a 9mm cartridge case, 9 mm pistol magazine and a live round for an AR-15, Garriott said. A wallet belonging to Zwieg contained a driver’s learner permit. Police found paychecks made out to Zwieg and a shoe with a red stain on it.

In the garage, there were no blood smears or trails of blood, said crime scene technician Michelle Idem, indicating that the victims fell where they were shot. Cole had a latex glove on his right hand and both were wearing ski masks.

With autopsy photos on a screen only visible to jurors, forensic pathologist, Dr. Scott Wagner, described the extensive injuries to both teens. Cole was shot three times. One of the shots went through his brain, exiting on one side, making it impossible for him to survive. Two other shots hit the upper and lower back.

Hardly any organ was spared in Ramirez’s body, but Wagner started with the head wounds, one to the left side of his face, another to the right side and another to the jaw. Gunshots were pumped into the neck, the right side of the chest, right forearm, left hand, middle and lower abdomen, wounding the liver and bladder besides shots to the right thigh and left buttock.

Wagner couldn’t say how far away the shooter was, but the shots weren’t delivered against the skin or close enough to leave a residue.

The night of the crime, Beachy had picked Zwieg up from work dropping him off at the apartment before 10 p.m. It was the same day Daltoso drove to Indianapolis to pick up a couple of friends at the Indianapolis airport and ended up staying the night.

After Beachy dropped off Zwieg, she drove to a friend’s apartment in the same complex to help her work out some “drama.” Beachy drove around Coliseum Boulevard with Aubrie Gasaway, but came back to the apartment complex around 10:40 p.m.

That was the same time neighbors said they heard about 10 shots and called 911. Beachy wasn’t parked in the complex’s parking lot but close to a dumpster where she saw a figure clad in dark clothing run by. She believes it was Zwieg, she said on the witness stand.

Daltoso returned to Fort Wayne Dec. 4 and was taken to police headquarters for questioning where he learned the fate of Cole and Ramirez. He recalled returning to Apartment 16 around 11 p.m. after police raided the place.

“It was a mess,” he said.

Three days later, he was on his way back to Indianapolis where he rented an Airbnb for himself and his friends. Zwieg was with him. Sgt. Tim Hughes, head of FWPD homicide at the time, said the Indiana State Police SWAT team arrested him there without incident.

More crime scene technicians are expected to take the stand Thursday. Predictions from prosecutors are that the trial will continue through to Friday.

Zwieg is charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder and burglary. Another charge for using a firearm in the commission of an offense could add 20 years, if Zwieg is convicted. Felony murder is added when another felony is committed in the act of murder.