Judge dismisses homicide charge in Kulling death

From staff reports

A criminal homicide charge against a Franklin man accused of killing an Oil City man in December 2017 was dismissed Tuesday in Venango County Court.

Judge Robert L. Boyer dismissed the case against Eric Beichner, 24, who was facing the homicide charge in connection with the death of Daniel Kulling. Boyer issued his ruling in a 12-page opinion.

Daniel Kulling

Kulling, who lived in Siverly, was reported missing by his family on Dec. 26, 2017. He was 35 at the time of his disappearance.

Kulling’s body was found by kayakers May 28, 2018, about a half-mile south of the Oil City Marina in Cranberry Township.

Oil City police had filed the homicide charge against Beichner and had said they believed Beichner was involved in a fight with Kulling on the Wye bridge on Dec. 24, 2017, resulting in Kulling falling into the river.

Beichner was arrested and arraigned in February 2019 following a months-long investigation. He was held for court in Central Court in May 2019.

His case then moved to the Court of Common Pleas, where he entered a not guilty plea last June.

A hearing in the case was held before Boyer in January, and at that time, Beichner’s attorney, Neil Rothschild, requested that some evidence against Beichner be thrown out.

Rothschild argued that even though there was evidence of criminal activity surrounding Kulling’s death, the autopsy report said his death was consistent with drowning and no foul play was suspected in the death itself.