Michael Wettstein, 61, of Dayton, entered a plea of guilty in front of the Honorable Chap B. Cain III, Presiding Judge in the 253rd Judicial District Court, to three first degree felony offenses of Murder, in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, on Friday, June 3.
As part of the plea agreement, the two companion cases of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon that were committed on August 17, 2020, the same date that Wettstein brutally shot and killed Bruce Avery Mercer, Richard Eugene Lamm, and Misty Dawn Herndon, were taken into consideration by the Court under Section 12.45 of the Texas Penal Code. Wettstein will not even be eligible for a parole hearing until he is 90 years old.
The State was prepared to show that on August 17, 2020, Michael Wettstein first killed Richard Eugene Lamm and Misty Dawn Herndon, after first killing Herndon’s dog. Wettstein then went to the home of Bruce Avery Mercer and shot and killed him. Lastly, Wettstein went to a third residence and shot Marvin Rumley and Amanda Rumley, both of whom survived after being air-lifted to a Houston hospital.
Although the motive for the shootings was never established, witness statements revealed that prior to the shootings, Wettstein ranted about dogs in the neighborhood that were allowed to roam freely.
After sentence was pronounced by Judge Cain, loved ones of the injured and deceased were given an opportunity to address the Court. Debbie Gibson provided one such statement.
Ms. Gibson told Wettstein, “What you did was horrendous…” “None of these people deserved what you did to them…” “May you spend the rest of your life thinking about what you did.” Many of the family members of those harmed and killed in this heinous crime were present in the courtroom or on zoom to watch Wettstein’s plea.
District Attorney Jennifer L. Bergman Stated: “I would like to express my appreciation to the members of Law Enforcement and first responders including but not limited to the Liberty County Sherriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and DPS Troopers for their continued dedication and hard work in successfully clearing this case. I also want to reiterate to the citizens of Liberty County that we will continue to strive to make Liberty County a safe place to visit, work, and to raise a family. This case is one of many that demonstrates a collaborative effort between Law Enforcement and our office. It is my hope that this sentence will send a message to offenders in Liberty County who commit violent acts that this type of conduct is not tolerated and the consequences to such conduct will be swift and dire.