A Wake County Superior Court judge ruled this week that a husband and wife charged with murder will have separate trials. Both attorneys and the district attorney’s office had initially agreed to one trial for both defendants. In early April, though, the wife’s defense attorney moved to sever the trials, claiming that his client was under duress at the time of the crime.
The victim was the 27-year-old mother of two of the husband’s children. She disappeared from Raleigh in July 2011; authorities found her remains several states away within a few weeks. Her remains were in a creek not far from the home of the wife’s sister.
In the motions filed earlier this month, the wife asserted that her husband had threatened to kill her while he was in jail. The wife feared for her life, the motions said. When the husband’s attorney saw the motions, he realized that a fair trial for his client would be impossible. The wife was planning to make the husband look more culpable and would pit the two defendants against one another. The only way to try the defendants jointly would be if they shared a theory of the crime and mounted defenses that were not antagonistic to one another.
The state opposed splitting the trials. A representative from the district attorney’s office said the evidence indicates that the wife took a more active role than her court pleadings admit to. Two trials would be a waste of time and money, the DA’s office said.
The joint trial had been set for May 20. The husband’s trial date is now set for the end of August. The court has yet to decide if the wife’s trial will go forward in May or if that, too, will be rescheduled.
Source: WRAL, “Judge orders separate murder trials for Raleigh couple,” Amanda Lamb, April 22, 2013
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