The trial of William J. Cumber is expected to be scheduled by the 12th Judicial Circuit Court at a Jan. 16 case management hearing. Cumber is accused of the second-degree murder of Holmes Beach resident Sabine Musil-Buehler.
Musil-Buehler had lived with Cumber in the 200 block of Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria when she was discovered missing Nov. 6, 2008. She and her estranged husband, Tom Buehler, owned Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach.
Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube announced Cumber’s arrest on the murder charge in October 2012.
At the upcoming hearing, assistant state attorney Art Brown said he expects the defense to discuss with the judge how long it will take to prepare for trial, including time needed to gather information from depositions, interviews and reports.
Cumber was adjudged indigent, and the court appointed a public defender Oct. 16.
On Dec. 3, the state filed a one-page list of people “who may have information relevant to either the charge or potential defense of the charge — not necessarily all will be witnesses,” Brown said.
In response to a request for discovery of favorable material filed by Cumber’s assigned public defender, Carolyn Schlemmer, the state is required to disclose any witnesses, statements and information under its control, and “they will reciprocate,” Brown said.
“I’m working on a second discovery response right now — with both witnesses and other information,” Brown said Jan. 9.
The murder charge includes allegations that between Nov. 4, 2008, and Nov. 6, 2008, without premeditation, and with a depraved mind, Cumber unlawfully killed Musil-Buehler.
Brown acknowledged that one of the elements the state must prove is the death of Musil-Buehler, whose body has not been found.
“If you do not have a body, you can still establish a homicide,” Brown said, “and there’s case law that says, if a person hasn’t been seen by the people she’d usually see, hasn’t been at places she’d usually gone to or if she’s been absent for a long period.”
An investigation by the MCSO led to Cumber’s arrest.
In a probable cause affidavit dated March 8, 2012, a detective testified to “a strong smell of bleach” in the Magnolia Avenue apartment during a Nov. 6, 2008, interview with Cumber. It also states that Cumber lied about his whereabouts on the day Sabine went missing, and “made several incriminating statements that only the person responsible in Sabine’s death would have knowledge of.”
The court issued a warrant Oct. 12, 2012, on the murder charge and ordered Cumber, who had been incarcerated at the Charlotte Correctional Institution in Punta Gorda, transported to Manatee County.
Cumber was in the state prison on an unrelated arson conviction and probation violation.
Cumber is being held in the Manatee County jail without bond. Brown said bond was not an option because Cumber continues to serve time on the arson sentence.
Cumber faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.
The case management is set for 9 a.m. before Judge Thomas Krug in 6A at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.