Routt pleads not guilty at arraignment

By Jennifer Eisenbart


The man accused of shooting and killing two people at a downtown Elkhorn bar pled not guilty March 8 in Walworth County Circuit Court.

Thomas Routt Jr., 57, was detained on a probation hold a few days after the Feb. 1 murder of Gina and Emerson Weingart at Sports Page Barr in Elkhorn.

Routt was officially charged Feb. 16 with two counts of first degree intentional homicide, both with use of a dangerous weapon, one count of attempted first-degree intention homicide, one count of armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of methamphetamine.

With his attorney Russell Jones appearing by Zoom, Routt’s “not guilty” plea was entered by Jones at the March 8 arraignment. A status conference is set for April 16 at 8:30 a.m. at the request of Jones, who will be reviewing the evidence the state has against Routt.

Also on March 8, an order for protection was issued by the state. The court document was not available by press deadline.

The entire proceeding took less than five minutes, as Routt’s lawyer was late logging into Zoom and the hearing didn’t begin until 1:04 p.m.

Family members of Gina and Emerson, as well as Elkhorn local and Sports Page Barr co-owner Jordan Barr were in the courtroom for the March 8 proceedings.

The family said it did not have a statement prepared, but Jeff Weingart – Emerson’s father – told the court he wanted the process to move as expeditiously as possible.

Routt, after being taken into custody Feb. 4, allegedly admitted to police that he was the man at the bar with the gun Feb. 1, and that he committed the crime “more than likely for the money.”

He said he wanted Gina Weingart to get down on the ground, but she allegedly told him to put the gun away or she would call the cops. Routt said Gina Weingart slapped the gun and it went off, causing her to fall down and go limp.

Routt then admitted to shooting the man sitting at the bar, Emerson Weingart.

Routt said he took between $120 and $140 from the open cash register, but the man was still alive. He admitted to shooting Emerson Weingart again, and then following the eyewitness out the back door and firing two to three shots at her.

The witness called 911 while she was fleeing. When law enforcement arrived, they found Gina Weingart on the floor behind the bar with a large amount of blood around her head, and Emerson Weingart near the bar area on the floor, also with a large amount of blood around his head. Police also found two spent shell casings and a bullet on the floor, as well as the cash register emptied.

Routt later told police he went home after the shooting, and later dumped the gun and ammunition at a gas station. A news release from police said the gas station was the Handi-Mart in Lake Como, and that a 9-millimeter handgun and ammunition were later retrieved. The criminal complaint said the gun and ammunition were located in bags in a dumpster at the gas station.

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