Acquittal – First Degree Murder, October 2010 – February 2017
In October of 2010, a man and his girlfriend are attacked in their home at the Lake of the Ozarks in Camden County, Missouri. The woman is killed in their bedroom. The man calls 911, performs CPR on his dying girlfriend, and directs emergency personnel to this home. He does not identify his attacker. Still conscious, he is taken by life-flight to a hospital in Boone County, Missouri. A few hours after the attack, the man rapidly loses consciousness and is placed on life support. It is only then that doctors discover that what was believed to be a cut on his forehead is actually a gunshot wound and that a bullet is still lodged in his brain.
Police notify the man’s daughter, his only adult relative. She responds to the hospital to find her father in a coma, on life support and completely unresponsive. While there, she participates in two lengthy interviews with police. Within days, she presents a durable power of attorney to the hospital and asks that life support be removed. The hospital finds the durable power of attorney invalid because the daughter is both the agent and the notary public on the document. Still, the daughter is allowed to make the decision to remove life support because she is the only next of kin. Life support is removed and the man dies four days after the original attack in his home.
Within a month, police execute search warrants at the daughter’s home and workplace. She hires Bath & Edmonds. Bath & Edmonds begins investigating the case in November of 2010, including bringing a crime scene expert in to examine the home, which by then has been turned over to the daughter, before it has been cleaned. In September of 2012, the State of Missouri charges the daughter with murder of her father–in Boone County, where he died at the hospital. Her bond is set at one million dollars, despite the fact that she has known she was a suspect for two years and has not fled but has instead engaged defense counsel. The State alleges that the daughter perpetrated the murder by using a forged durable power of attorney to remove life support. The State also charges two others, who the State claims assisted her in presenting the forged document, with murder. After a year of litigation by Bath & Edmonds and the lawyer for the other two defendants, including depositions of 19 witnesses in Missouri, Illinois and Nevada, the State dismisses the charges against all three defendants—essentially conceding the testimony of the medical witnesses, that the allegedly forged durable power of attorney played no role in the removal of life support.
In September of 2013, the day after dismissing the Boone County charges, the State files a complaint in Camden County, Missouri court, charging the daughter with murdering her father and his girlfriend by shooting and stabbing. The case is moved to Laclede County, Missouri, due to concerns about pre-trial publicity. Bath & Edmonds’ lawyers argue the case for nearly two more years before the case heads to trial in June of 2015. Before a jury can be selected, the case ends in a mistrial due to discussions by potential jurors.
In February of 2017, the case goes to trial again. Bath & Edmonds defends the case using experts from Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, California, and Louisiana, including one of the State’s own experts. The experts provide information on such matters as proper investigative techniques, technology, crime scene reconstruction and DNA. After seven days of evidence, the jury deliberates for a few hours before finding the daughter not guilty.