Attorney: Murder suspect has alibi

GREENFIELD — A man accused of strangling a Greenfield woman to death with the sash of her bathrobe has an alibi proving he couldn’t have committed the murder, his attorney says.

In a notice filed with the court this week, attorney John Merlau told the judge his client, Spencer Spielman – who faces charges of murder and robbery in the death of 52-year-old Patricia Dresser of Greenfield – could not have killed the victim because he wasn’t with her at the time of the slaying, according to court records.

Merlau told the judge he plans to call two people to testify in Spielman’s defense during the trial slated for next month. Those witnesses will tell the jury Spielman was with them during the hours investigators believe Dresser died, Merlau wrote in the filing.

But police say Spielman, 1556 Prairieview Lane, Greenfield, already admitted to killing Dresser, according to court documents, though few details about the case or a possible motive have been released.

Friends of Dresser’s found her dead at her home in the Cricket Reel subdivision in Greenfield late on Oct. 13 after not hearing from her and becoming worried.

Investigators believe she died the day before; the last time someone spoke to her was around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, court records state. Phone calls from friends and family members to Dresser went unanswered all day on Oct. 13, records state.

An autopsy confirmed Dresser’s death was a homicide, and her relatives immediately pointed to Spielman as a suspect in the killing, telling police detectives Dresser had previously expressed concerns about the behavior of the man she’d hired to do work around her home, court documents state.

Dresser agreed to pay Spielman to do housework because he said he needed money, court documents state.

Spielman was given a code to get into Dresser’s house through the garage door. A day before she died, she accused him of breaking in and ransacking the place, investigators said.

Dresser told her son on Oct. 12 she had come home to find drawers in the kitchen and bedroom had been rifled through, court documents state. She immediately suspected Spielman was responsible, her son told police.

Dresser’s son said he encouraged his mother to contact police about the break-in, but she did not make a report, according to court documents.

Police believe Spielman returned to Dresser’s home overnight and killed her. He was arrested a few days later after police found him driving Dresser’s stolen car, records state.

Though charging documents give few details about what happened in the moments leading up to Dresser’s death, police say Spielman admitted during questioning he strangled the woman, according to court document.

Now, Spielman’s attorney says friends of the defendant can vouch for his whereabouts between 9 p.m. Oct. 12 and 7 a.m. Oct. 13 – the time police believe the murder occurred, and they plan to present that testimony at trial, records show.

Merlau declined to comment further on the alibi notice, as did Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

Spielman faces a murder charge in addition to one Level 5 felony count of robbery and one Class A misdemeanor of driving with a suspended license.

He is being held in the Hancock County Jail on $250,000 cash bond and is expected back in court on March 29.

His trial is scheduled for April 17.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or