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State v. Plunkett

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

August 18, 2015


Page 167

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Callaway County, Missouri. The Honorable Gary M. Oxenhandler, Judge.

Richard A. Starnes, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

Emmett D. Queener, Columbia, MO, for appellant.

Before Division One: Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, Joseph M. Ellis, Judge and James E. Welsh, Judge. All concur.


Page 168

Cynthia L. Martin, J.

Sandra G. Plunkett (" Wife" ) appeals her convictions of first-degree murder and armed criminal action following a jury trial.

Page 169

Wife argues that the trial court erred by refusing to submit a proposed self-defense instruction to the jury, by overruling her motions to suppress evidence, and by admitting testimony at trial regarding the evidence she sought to suppress. Finding no error, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural History[1]

Wife married Paul Plunkett (" Husband" ), a Jefferson City police officer, in 1998. Husband retired from the police department in 2008 and bought a pest control company from his brother. Wife and Husband operated the business together.

Wife developed a drug addiction to Vicodin and heroin. To fund her drug habit, Wife overdrew thousands of dollars from joint personal and business checking accounts and sold items to a local pawn shop.

Husband developed diverticulitis in the summer of 2009, requiring several surgeries and hospitalizations. By the end of 2010, Husband was generally confined to a hospital bed in the living room of his home in Holt's Summit. Husband had an open wound, a feeding tube, tubes for intravenous drugs, and a colostomy bag. Husband had to wear an abdominal binder to be able to get out of bed and move around. Husband's heart was enlarged and his legs had atrophied to the point that moving around required great effort.

Sometime during the week after Christmas in 2010, Wife asked a drug associate, Randy Deppe (" Deppe" ), if he knew anyone who would kill Husband. On December 30, 2010, Wife again asked Deppe if he knew anyone who would kill Husband and mentioned something about an insurance check. Wife told Deppe that Husband would not die and admitted to putting morphine and heroin in Husband's IV drip in an attempt to kill him.

Later on December 30, 2010, Wife took a Marlin .22-caliber rifle to a pawn shop. Wife asked the store clerk to show her how to load the rifle. The clerk told Wife the kind of ammunition needed for the rifle.

Before 10:00 a.m. on January 1, 2011, Wife shot Husband in the head with the Marlin rifle, killing him. Wife left the house and drove to Jefferson City to buy heroin. She then drove to a nearby cul-de-sac and disposed of the rifle in the woods. She disposed of a box of ammunition while driving on a gravel road in New Bloomfield.

Between 12:45 p.m. and 12:50 p.m. on January 1, 2011, Wife called 911 and reported that a man in camouflage was in the middle of the street pointing a rifle at her house. She reported that she had arrived home to discover her Husband had been shot. A police officer arrived. The officer could not see into Wife's house because the blinds were closed, and no one immediately answered the front door. The officer started toward the back of the house when Wife opened the carport door holding a handgun. Wife told the officer she did not know how to use the gun.

Wife led the officer into the house. She lifted and turned Husband's head to show the officer an entry wound on the right side. Wife said the man in camouflage was a white male in his fifties. Wife said she grabbed the handgun, which Husband kept in a holster near his bed, and tried to fire it out the door to scare the man but could not fire the gun. Wife said she tried to do the same with a rifle.

Page 170

Paramedics arrived on the scene. As the paramedics moved Husband, a .22-caliber shell casing rolled onto the floor. The shell casing was consistent with having been fired from a Marlin rifle.

Wife continued to claim to police that Husband was shot by a camouflaged gunman. Wife denied that she or Husband were experiencing financial problems and denied that she had current drug problems. The police ruled out people Wife identified as potential suspects.

The police contacted family members and determined that a Marlin rifle was missing from the home. Police learned of Wife's drug problem and interviewed Deppe about his conversations with Wife.

On January 3, 2011, the police again interviewed Wife. This time, Wife claimed that Husband asked her to find someone who would kill him because he wanted to die. Wife said Deppe agreed to kill Husband and that she left a rifle in the garage for Deppe. Police re-interviewed Deppe, who denied any involvement in the murder.

On January 4, 2011, the police again interviewed Wife. This time, Wife said she killed Husband at his request. Wife led investigators to the rifle. Wife was arrested and later charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Both before and after Wife's arrest, Prosecutors secured investigative subpoenas from the trial court pursuant to section 56.085.[2] Before Wife was arrested, Jefferson Bank and Hawthorne Bank received subpoenas that requested account information for Husband and Wife's joint bank accounts. After Wife was arrested, United Healthcare received subpoenas that requested information about a life insurance policy worth $100,000 owned by Husband. In lieu of appearing in person at the prosecutor's office to deliver the records ...

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