Pennsylvania Detectives Testify in Murder-for-Hire Trial

A defense attorney claimed that Christopher Gessner didn’t mean to kill his girlfriend, Teresa Lindt, when he used gasoline to set his Washington Township mobile home on fire with her in it in 2011. Police had responded to a domestic dispute at the trailer immediately before the fire. However, Gessner faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, arson, reckless endangerment and cruelty to animals for the fire, which killed two dogs and injured Lindt.

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Chief Detective John Goshert and Detective Dennis Woodrig testified how Gessner plotted from jail to have Lindt killed, because he blamed her for having lost everything. While awaiting prosecution for the arson case, Gessner tried to recruit his cellmate to kill his ex-girlfriend for $3,000. The cellmate, Richard Shover, contacted police instead. Now, Gessner faces an additional charge of solicitation to commit murder.

Investigators had letters that Gessner exchanged with Shover about killing Lindt in which he asked, “Is she really, you know.” Gessner subsequently requested an obituary or death certificate. In addition, the prosecution had recordings of Gessner and Shover during two prison visits. One of them detailed how Shover showed a faked death photo to Gessner and said “It’s a wrap, dude.”

Despite this persuasive evidence, the defense attorney called Shover’s motives and testimony into question claiming he was just trying to get out of jail. However, Chief Detective Goshert testified that Gessner told them that he wanted to have Lindt killed because of her upcoming testimony. The detective even said that Gessner thanked him for stopping the murder plot, so he wouldn’t be in any more trouble.

The jury is currently deliberating Gessner’s fate.