Defense Rests in Murder Trial of Holts Summit Woman
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Day three in the murder trial of the wife of a former mid-Missouri police officer wrapped up Thursday afternoon. Sandra Plunkett admitted to killing her husband, Paul in 2011. Late Thursday, the defense rested its case and the prosecution began recalling witnesses.
The prosecution called two witnesses who testified the defendant, Sandra Plunkett told them she fractured her rib from coughing so hard when she had bronchitis. The prosecution also called Josh Plunkett, Paul Plunkett's son, to the stand. He testified Paul Plunkett had never abused him and he had never seen Paul abuse his ex-wife.
Earlier, the prosecution argued Sandra Plunkett killed her husband for his life insurance money to help fund her heroine addiction. The defense said Sandra Plunkett killed her husband in self-defense after years of marital abuse.
Late Thursday afternoon, the defense called Barbara Lacy to the stand. Lacy was a co-worker and friend of Sandra's. Lacy stated Sandra told her Paul Plunkett was often jealous and controlling of her.
Focus during the cross-examination of Sandra Plunkett, following her testimony, surrounded her disposal of the gun after her husband was shot. Sandra Plunkett stated she did not load the gun herself, but was confident the rifle was loaded when she shot it. The defense said in order for her to be "confident" the gun was loaded, she would of had to load it herself.
Sandra Plunkett said she disposed of the gun and a box of bullets after she shot her husband. The prosecution challenged her allegations of self-defense and asked why she would dispose of the items if she had acted in self-defense.
While on the stand, a lot of Plunkett's testimony involved her husband's jealousy. Plunkett said he would call to check up on her multiple times at work and would even check her car's odometer to make sure she wasn't lying about the distance she had traveled.
The defense presented evidence of a medical report of an X-ray showing Plunkett had a fractured rib. According to Plunkett, the injury came from her husband hitting her in the chest with a baton.
During her testimony, Plunkett said her husband tied her to their bed three separate times, the longest being for three straight days. Plunkett also said her husband kept a gun under their bed and threatened to kill her five or six times with it.
According to Plunkett, the assaults never took place in front of family or friends, only when the couple was alone. She said she never asked for help out of fear. Plunkett also said her husband's friends in law enforcement kept her from reporting the alleged abuse.
Sandra Plunkett testified she planned on committing suicide at a casino in Boonville. According to Plunkett, she didn't tell anyone where she was going. While at the casino, she said a man came up to her and asked if her name was Sandra. When she responded, he told her his family was there. Sandra Plunkett said this is evidence that Paul Plunkett always knew where she was even if she didn't tell him.
The prosecution debunked many of Plunkett's claims in the cross-examination that followed her testimony. Sandra Plunkett stated she feared sharing her abuse with law enforcement because of her husband's connections to law enforcement, but neither detectives that interviewed her knew her or her husband prior to the interview.
The cross-examination also revealed Plunkett had received care at two rehabilitation centers for her drug addiction, during which a physician asked if she had been abused. Sandra Plunkett replied told the physician she had not.
Prosecutors also argued her husband had been hooked up to an IV tube and facing a variety of medical ailments, which would make it difficult to abuse his wife. Sandra replied she was still fearful of him.
On Wednesday, the prosecution called multiple witnesses to the stand, including Randy Deppe, an acquaintance of Sandra Plunkett. While on the stand, Deppe said in 2010 Sandra Plunkett asked if he knew anyone who would consider killing her husband.
In 2011, Plunkett told investigators Deppe wanted them to be a couple, giving him motivation to kill Paul Plunkett. Investigators later found out she fabricated that story. Deppe also told police she discussed her husband's murder twice with him.
Paul Plunkett's oldest brother Carroll Lee Plunkett also testified Wednesday. Carroll Lee Plunkett sold his pest control business to Sandra and Paul Plunkett. Carroll Lee Plunkett testified Sandra Plunkett came to him and asked him for a $5,000 loan, but didn't want her husband to know. Carroll Lee Plunkett said he would consider loaning her the money, but he wanted to sit down with her and her husband to discuss it. When Carroll Lee Plunkett told Sandra Plunkett his request, she came to him and said her mom had already given her the money.
Mark Stoner, Paul Plunkett's partner at the Jefferson City Police Department, said Sandra Plunkett asked him to borrow money from him several times. Stoner told Sandra Plunkett he would not give her cash, but would instead help pay for bills or groceries. Testimony is that Stoner knew of Sandra Plunkett's drug history and said he thought she would use cash for drugs. After Stoner told Sandra Plunkett he wouldn't pay her in cash, she denied his request.
Now that Sandra is in state custody, Paul Plunkett's $100,000 life insurance policy will be left with Paul Plunkett's son, Josh. Earlier, Sandra Plunkett told investigators her husband didn't have life insurance, when he actually did. Now, Sandra Plunkett said she didn't know Paul Plunkett's life insurance was active when she killed him in 2011.
The trial will resume Friday morning, Jan. 9.