ESCONDIDO — Fearing for his life, accused murderer Octavian Crishan testified Jan. 29 he killed his best friend and then wounded his other roommate nearly eight hours later out of self-defense.
Crishan, 70, testified his longtime friend Herman Wiesemeyer was trying to extort more than $20,000 from him and when he refused to pay, the elderly victim armed himself with a knife and rifle to get his point across that either Crishan pay or become “dead meat.”
The defendant said Weisemeyer’s verbal assault lasted for hours, and then came to a head when the two men began struggling as the victim sat in a chair and he stood over him. Crishan said he then pulled a handgun that he had stashed in his robe for protection, hit Wiesemeyer with it and when that didn’t subdue the 67-year-old man, he shot him point-blank.
The hours that followed the killing involved Crishan drinking until he passed out, during which time he wrote several suicide notes in which he confessed to shooting his roommates and explained why he did it.
When Crishan’s other roommate, Matthew Vivian, came home around 8 a.m. from work, Crishan said he hid in the shadows of the den. As Vivian walked by him to investigate Wiesemeyer lying on the floor, Crishan said he appeared and Vivian charged him. Again fearing for his life, Crishan said he shot Vivian point-blank.
Vivian, a registered nurse who is in his mid-40s, survived a single gunshot wound to his jaw.
Crishan portrayed Weisemeyer’s residence where he’d rented a room since 2006 as a place filled with constant verbal and physical abuse from Wiesemeyer and Vivian.
Crishan, a former concert violinist, is charged with the murder of Wiesemeyer and attempted murder of Vivian stemming from the April 18, 2007, shootings in Weisemeyer’s home in the 2100 block of Parktree Lane.
Crishan testified that at the request of the victims, he moved from his Las Vegas senior living apartment in 2006. Prior to that, Crishan had been placed in an assisted living facility after a debilitating car accident and two strokes in 2005. Crishan had been living with his girlfriend who moved back to Romania and he either needed to find someone to care for him or move back into an assisted living facility. Wiesemeyer offered him a room, care and food for $1,800 a month. Crishan said he accepted reluctantly because of his old friend’s propensity for alcohol and gambling.
Before a career-ending car accident in 1996, Crishan played in orchestras across the country and was a band leader in Las Vegas playing with the likes of Elvis and the Rat Pack. He immigrated to the United States from Romania in the 1940s, he said.
Following the shooting, Crishan exited the residence after a three-hour standoff, rambling and asking to be shot, court records state. Police used approximately seven shots from a beanbag gun and a police dog to subdue Crishan, according to court documents.
At the prompting of Crishan, authorities recovered several notes from the pockets of the robe he was wearing when he exited the house. In one note he wrote, “I DECLARE I KILED HERMAN WIESEMEYER about 12 MIDNIGHT FRIDAY as REVERGE FOR HIM and MATT persecuting me, making Fun of me, Abusing me verbally and phisicly for the last 3 months,” according to court records.
Prosecutor Paul Myers grilled Crishan under cross-examination about why in his confession notes he never mentioned the immediate fear he faced moments before the shootings.
Crishan said he didn’t remember writing the notes, so he couldn’t say why he omitted the aforementioned details. Following his arrest, Crishan had a blood alcohol level of .24, more than three times the legal limit.
He remains in custody in lieu of $1 million.