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Bret Michael Wheeler, alleged co-conspirator in Gerber death, guilty of contempt of court

Bret Michael Wheeler, alleged co-conspirator in the August death of Kandi Gerber, was found guilty of criminal contempt after he refused to testify Monday during the murder trial of Robert Theodore Bosley.

Bosley is on trial for first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault in connection with Gerber's death. Wheeler, who is also charged in the case, is scheduled to begin his own trial in May.

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On April 17, Judge Barry Hughes, who is presiding over Bosley's trial, signed a motion that would compel Wheeler to testify in the case and immunize his statements so they could not be used against him. However, when Wheeler was called to testify Monday, he told the court that he would not answer questions asked by the state, the defense or the court.

Wheeler told Hughes that his attorneys had warned him of the consequences of not testifying and he chose to not answer the questions. Eric Offutt, one of Wheeler's two attorneys, told Hughes that Wheeler did not want to testify out of concern for his own personal well-being. There is a danger about being labeled a snitch while incarcerated, Offutt said.

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"This is not something he has done on a whim. This is something considered seriously," Offutt said.

Deputy State's Attorney Ned Coyne, one of the three attorneys prosecuting the case, told Hughes that Wheeler was "thumbing his nose at the court order."

Hughes sentenced Wheeler to 179 days in the Carroll County Detention Center for criminal contempt. The charge and sentence are independent of Wheeler's charges of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and accessory to first-degree murder.

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