Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kellers and Their Millions

"Not About Money"

The authorities chose to believe Wolfgang Keils account. Keller was charged with murder, and his trial commenced in January 2005.

The essence of the case hinged on which of the two men was more believable.

Both took the witness standKeil for the prosecution, Keller for the defense.

Keil testified that he was reading papers passed to him by Keller when the room suddenly was shook by a thundering bang, followed instantly by a sharp pain in his chest.

"I was in shock, Keil said. I couldn't believe what was happening."

He looked up and saw Keller leveling a pistol at his sister.

"As he was shooting at my sister, he just had this mean look on his face. I don't know how to describe it, but it's a look I'll never forget."

Wolfgang Keil in court, describes shooting
Wolfgang Keil in court, describes shooting

Keil said he rushed toward Keller and was shot a second time during a struggle for the gun as the two men fell onto a sofa. When he finally gained control of the pistol, Keil fired a shot that grazed Kellers cheek. He pulled the trigger several more times as Keller sat slumped on the floor, but the gun was empty.

Some jurors flinched as Keil recalled through tears how he knelt beside his dying sister, calling her name as he made a futile attempt to stanch the blood pulsing from Roses fatal wound.

When his turn came, Keller held fast to his version of the shooting:

"Wolfgang pulled out a black object with a barrel on it. I said to myself, 'He's going to kill me.' It was a gun, I believed that. I got up out of the chair, got my gun ... and shot him. I just had to react quickly before he shot me. Instantly, he sprung up out of his chair and ran around the table and charged me. I shot him again. He grabbed the gun out of my hand."

Keller and prosecutor Dan Galo parried during cross-examination.

Keller sometimes ignored the prosecutors inquiries to make seemingly irrelevant points about his relationship with Rose. He seemed to want to control the proceedings. At one point, Keller chastised the prosecutor: Dont make fun.

Keller insisted that Keil had control of the weapon at the time the fatal shot was fired.

"Sir, I did not shoot Rose," Keller told Galo. "My fingers were not on the trigger ... I never intended to shoot anyone.

Galo got the last word, of course.

"He's not a man who likes to lose, but he lost and he lost big," the prosecutor said. He called the shooting Kellers "one final act of control.

Attorney Doug Duncan
Attorney Doug Duncan

Keller's attorney, Doug Duncan, characterized the shooting of Wolfgang Keil as "lawful self-defense during a fight between an old man and a young one. Rose was accidentally and tragically shot" during that strugglecollateral damage.

"Money is not an issue," Duncan insisted. He said Keller would be a rich man whether he was worth $72 million or $36 million.

With closing statements completed, Judge Jack Cook sent the jury away to deliberate on Feb. 2.

Judge Jack Cook
Judge Jack Cook

After five days, one of the longest jury deliberations in Palm Beach history, the seven women and five men announced that they could not reach a unanimous verdict. Cook declared a mistrial. Jurors told reporters they were split nearly 50/50half for acquittal, half for conviction. 

 

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