Plunkett found guilty of murdering husband
Fri, 10 Jan 2014 16:58:05 GMT —
A jury has convicted the Holts Summit woman charged with killing her husband.
Sandra Plunkett was convicted of first degree murder and armed criminal action for shooting and killing her husband New Yearâ??s Day 0f 2011.
For the murder conviction, she was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
The case went to the jury Friday morning.
During closing arguments Friday, prosecutors said the murder of Paul Plunkett, a former Jefferson City police officer, was premeditated.
They argued Paul did not load the gun they say was used to kill him because he would not just load one round.
Prosecutors also said his murder was not a mercy killing because of his failing health and not an act of self-defense.
They argued Sandra viewed him as a burden because of his health and thatâ??s why she killed him.
Sandraâ??s defense argued she could not go to the police because her husband used to work for them, and argued her drug use did not lead to her shooting her husband because she used them as a coping mechanism.
Before closing arguments, the jury was instructed on how to return a verdict.
They can convict her of first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, or involuntary manslaughter.
There is also a charge of armed criminal action, but she can only be convicted of that if she is found guilty on one of the murder counts.
On the stand Thursday, Sandra Plunkett was asked by her attorney if she shot her husband Paul, to which she said â??yes.â??
Plunkett also described her husband as a possessive and jealous person, who would not let her hang around other guys or his friends.
She testified he checked her odometer several times each week and called her at work several times per shift while she was working.
Sandra said Paul was also very particular about the clothes she wore, and the way she did her hair and makeup.
She also said Paul was very demanding when it came to sex. She testified he wanted sex frequently, sometimes several times each day, he would take pictures of her and post them online, and would not let her sleep with clothes on.
Sandra also described physical abuse in her marriage. She said Paul first assaulted her in 199 after they ran into one of her male co-workers at a Walmart. She said Paul hit her in the face with a flashlight when they got home.
She also stated her husband never assaulted her in front of anyone, it was always when they were alone. She added he was trained in judo and would use it on her.
She said Paul hit her in the back with a police baton June 2, 2009. That was the day before Paulâ??s first surgery. She said she got sick while he was in the hospital and a chest X-Ray showed she had a fractured rib.
Sandra testified Paul also tied her to the bed three different times in 2010, including one time when she was left there for three days.
She said Paul kept a gun next to the bed and threatened to kill her three different times.
Despite her accusations of abuse, she testified she stayed in the relationship because she was scared to reach out to anyone. She said at one point she went to a shelter for help, but testified she was turned away because her husband was a police officer in the area.
In 2008 Sandra left suicidal notes and planned to rent a room in Boonville and overdose on painkillers, but Paul and his brother and nephew found her there.
Sandra also testified Paul was aware of the coupleâ??s financial situation and her drug abuse.
Thursdayâ??s testimony follows a day in which the court heard taped interviews between police and Sandra Plunkett after her husband was killed.
Thursday, the state also called Sarah Hunt, which worked as a nurses aide with Sandra at St. Maryâ??s, to testify.
Hunt told the court she and Sandra and their respective spouses became friends.
Sandra told Sarah about her substance abuse and financial issues. Sarah said Sandra told her how the couple had taken out a mortgage on their home and rental property and maxed out their credit cards.
Sarah also testified she knew Sandra was using heroin.
She also testified Sandra spent the night at Sarahâ??s the night of the murder and stayed with her the next day and night. While Sandra was there, Sarah testified someone had written on the utilities door next to Sarah's apartment door "you're next."
She said it was not there before Sandra got there.
In a taped interview with police Wednesday, Sandra Plunkett admitted to police she was the person who shot her husband, Paul, a retired Jefferson City police officer.
When an officer asked her during the interview why she shot him, she stated â??he begged me to.â??
The interviewing officer asked Plunkett asked how she knew the gun was loaded before she shot her husband, and she said he loaded it for her. She also admitted dumping the gun along a county road. She would eventually lead investigators to it.
During the interview when she admitted shooting her husband, Plunkett said she shot him about 9:30 a.m., went to the gas station, and then to a friends house to do heroin.
In other testimony Wednesday, an investigator testified the first 911 call came in at 12:49 p.m. the day Paul Plunkett, a retired Jefferson City police officer, was shot.
The investigator testified the first officers responded four minutes later.
When the first officer arrived, a neighbor was standing outside, but reported seeing no gunman and hearing no commotion.
Plunkett had told authorities she saw a gunman in camouflage clothing walking around the neighborhood.
In Wednesdayâ??s testimony, the investigator said if Sandra had gone to buy cigarettes and visit a friend the day of the shooting at the time she initially said, the times would not have matched up with her 911 call to police.
The investigator also said in court, Sandra tried to pawn a rifle a week before her husbandâ??s murder, but they couldnâ??t find it after the shooting.
The state claims Sandra Plunkett killed her husband with a .22 caliber rifle while he was laying in a hospital bed in the couple's living room.
The prosecution stated Sandra Plunkett had a heroin addiction that ate up all of the couple's funds by 2010, and her husband had a $100,000 life insurance policy that could have been a possible motive for the murder.
19 days before the murder, the couple filed a medical malpractice claim for a botched surgery that kept Paul Plunkett bedridden.
That claim was estimated to be worth $3 million.
Tuesday, the state called 2 witnesses, the 911 joint dispatcher, and the Holts Summit police officer who was the first responder to the scene of the murder, who stated Sandra Plunkett was fidgety and washed her hands while in his presence.
The defense's opening remarks stated that Paul Plunkett was abusive and always carried a gun.
The defense claimed Paul was jealous and Sandra was scared to leave him.
The defense claims Plunkett shot her husband during an argument because he rolled to grab a gun, and she got to one before he could shoot her.
The defense admitted Sandra lied to authorities because Paul was friends with them.