Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The state plans to call its last witness today, the third day of the murder trial against Sandra Plunkett — a Holts Summit woman accused of murdering her husband in 2011.
In court yesterday around 8 p.m., presiding Judge Gary Oxenhandler stated to jurors he had hoped to hear from the state’s final witness that day, but was OK with the trial’s progress because Randy Deppe, the state’s next-to-last witness, was important. Deppe said he was connected to Plunkett through drug use and “acquaintances in the same drug addiction.”
Deppe testified that in late 2010, Plunkett asked him if he knew someone who would consider (or would consider himself) killing her “old man.” He said that at the time he thought she was trying to earn “street cred.”
Justin Carver, Plunkett’s public defender, questioned Deppe, who is currently in the Missouri Department of Corrections, on his conflicting statements he made to detective Mark Edwards with the Jefferson City Police Department on Jan. 3, 2011, when he was a suspect in the case and in a November 2012 deposition.
Plunkett told investigators in early January 2011 that Deppe wanted them to be a couple and that could have been motivation for him to commit the murder. She also told investigators at the time that Paul Plunkett, who was nearly bedridden due to surgeries to help a inflammatory colon disease, wanted to die and wished to be free of pain and suffering. Deppe, she continued, was the one who was going to carry out Paul Plunkett’s wishes because both she and Paul Plunkett could not bring themselves to do it.
Investigators say they later discovered Plunkett fabricated this story.
In January 2011, Carver said Deppe told police Plunkett discussed Paul Plunkett’s murder once while at a friend’s house. The deposition states Deppe said Plunkett talked with him about her husband’s murder twice — once at a friend’s house and the other time in a truck after they “shot up,” Carver pointed out in court yesterday.
To that, Deppe said he is a human and his memory grew better over time.
Carver also referenced the deposition in which Deppe stated he regularly used drugs and would “hook up” Plunkett with drugs, taking a portion of hers as his payment for supplying her.
Throughout Carver’s questioning, Deppe remained certain Plunkett spoke with him about finding a way to kill her husband.
The reward for Paul Plunkett’s death, he said Sandra told him, was a split of an insurance check, or life insurance policy. The policy — as Colene Legere, a United Healthcare Insurance claims professional testified — was for $100,000.
Throughout Plunkett’s questioning in early January 2011, she repeatedly told investigators — as revealed in interview tapes — she had “nothing to gain” from Paul Plunkett’s death, stating that they don’t have life insurance. While Legere was on the stand, she stated Paul Plunkett’s policy was reported in 2008 and Sandra Plunkett was the beneficiary.
Carver asked Legere whether the beneficiary would receive payment on the policy if the beneficiary had any involvement in the policy holder’s death. Legere said that information is correct.
Because Sandra Plunkett was arrested, her husband’s $100,000 policy eventually went to his son, Josh Plunkett. After learning of his father’s death, Josh Plunkett searched the Plunkett residence in Holts Summit for important documents, especially financial records. He said in court that he discovered a life insurance policy document along with romance novels inside a pink shopping bag.
In addition, Josh Plunkett said he was the personal representative for Paul Plunkett’s estate. This included a $260,000 settlement from a malpractice lawsuit Paul Plunkett filed with the University of Missouri Hospital after surgeries, Josh Plunkett said. The suit was filed before his death and was settled after his death.
Sandra Plunkett’s financial struggles were discussed in court yesterday. Alena Ward, a bookkeeper with Hawthorne Bank, testified that Paul and Sandra Plunkett’s personal checking account totaled to $1,500 in May 2010, but by December 2010 the account was overdrawn.
Kenyen Bateman, custodian of records with Jefferson Bank in Missouri, stated the couple’s account for their business, Bias Pest Control, had $5,388 in it in March 2010 and $4,003 a month later. By November 2010, Bateman testified, the account was about $226 in the hole.
Carroll Lee Plunkett, Paul Plunkett’s eldest brother, said he sold the pest control business to his brother, Paul, and Sandra Plunkett. He testified that he was made aware of financial difficulties when Sandra Plunkett asked him for a $5,000 loan, but didn’t want her husband to be aware of it. Carroll Lee Plunkett said he told his sister-in-law he would consider loaning them the money if he could sit down and discuss it with Paul and Sandra Plunkett first. Sandra, as he testified, said she would get back to him and later told him that she received the money from her parents.
Mark Stoner, Paul Plunkett’s former partner with the Jefferson City Police Department and friend of the couple, said Sandra Plunkett asked to borrow money from him “several times,” each time for between $80 to $100. Stoner testified that Sandra Plunkett told him she needed the money for Paul Plunkett’s medical supplies.
Stoner said Sandra Plunkett paid him back two times, but when he offered to pay bills or for groceries instead of giving her cash, she rejected his offers.
“I knew the money was going toward drugs,” Stoner said in court yesterday.
Stoner added that he once gave Sandra Plunkett a ride home from University of Missouri Hospital after visiting Paul Plunkett, and she stated to him she had taken seven volume of a drug. With previous work in narcotics, Stoner said he knew that was a large amount. Stoner also said he and a friend were going to alert Paul Plunkett of his wife’s drug use when his physical health improved and was able to handle the situation.
Sandra Plunkett’s transactions at Family Pawn in Jefferson City also indicated her attempts to obtain cash. Jason Travis, the manager at Family Pawn, testified that Sandra Plunkett had 11 transactions with the store between Nov. 24 and Dec. 23, 2010, selling silver coins and scrap silver that totaled to $1,981.
Her last attempt to sell at the pawn shop was the week before Paul Plunkett’s death when she brought in a .22 caliber rifle — the murder weapon. John Thompson, a pawn shop employee, said Sandra Plunkett rejected his offer for the rifle on Dec. 30, 2010, and left the shop.
Sgt. David Rice with the Missouri State Highway Patrol testified Sandra Plunkett led investigators to the rifle down a gravel road off of Halifax Road in Holts Summit on Jan. 4, 2011. This was after she confessed to investigators, stating she was about two-feet away from Paul Plunkett when she pulled the trigger around 9:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day 2011.
She then went to a Break Time in Jefferson City, as revealed by video tape, to buy cigarettes. After that, Sandra Plunkett went to a friend’s house to buy half a gram of heroin and found a gravel road to inject the heroin and smoke cigarettes.
Sandra Plunkett called police at 12:49 p.m.
Bryan Reed testified that Sandra Plunkett was wearing a gray sweatshirt on the day of Paul Plunkett’s murder. A Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab criminalist testified she found gunshot residue on the gray sweatshirt, but not Sandra Plunkett’s hands due to the length of the rifle.
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