Scroll down to see the latest updates in bold print from inside the courtroom starting at 8:45 Thursday morning.
An ex-wife at the center of a rare wrongful death trial could testify as early as today. Just how many questions she will answer without using her Fifth Amendment right is unknown. Thursday marks the third day of testimony in the civil case filed before any criminal charges. Faith Stocker is suing her mother, Alberta Comstock, for the death of her father, Rolland Comstock, a well known book collector and attorney.
Stocker's attorneys say they have received word that because of her poor health Alberta Comstock may answer questions she previously did not answer citing her Fifth Amendment right.
Nearly four years ago someone shot Rolland Comstock four times inside his Greene County home. Stocker says her mother and Rolland's ex-wife, Alberta Comstock, is the killer. Alberta Comstock’s attorneys are arguing the evidence against her is circumstantial at best.
On Wednesday, attorneys for Rolland Comstock's daughter, Faith Stocker, called Rolland Comstock's former secretary Becky Frakes to the stand. Frakes says Alberta Comstock believed the couple’s home was “hers.” Alberta Comstock’s attorneys questioned Frakes’ motives for continuing lawsuits against Alberta even after Rolland Comstock’s death.
Stocker’s attorneys also called Greene County probate clerk, Dana Gray, who said, even though she did not know Alberta Comstock well, Alberta showed her pictures of Rolland with a man and a second picture of that man naked. Gray told jurors Alberta Comstock said she wanted those who had a high opinion of Rolland to know the real Rolland Comstock.
Next, they called Rolland Comstock's divorce attorney, Robert Stillings, who detailed the family’s long history of suing one another. He told jurors Alberta Comstock was more interested in revenge than getting money owed to her. Alberta Comstock’s attorneys say her court filings were consistent with anyone owed money and property in a divorce.
Oklahoma gun shop owner Mike Friend testified Alberta Comstock bought a gun from him the day before Rolland Comstock's killing. Detectives have ruled that gun out as the murder weapon. Friend told jurors Alberta Comstock bought the gun using cash that she kept in a "dark bag." Greene County detectives say they found Alberta Comstock's black briefcase inside Rolland Comstock's home after he was killed. Alberta Comstock's attorneys asked Friend if she was physically strong enough to fire several weapons. Friend told jurors she had to use two fingers to pull the trigger on several of the guns she shopped for that day. He said she was not a "gun buff" and likely could not fire a gun with rapid shots.
Monett, Mo gas station clerk, Tina Thompson, testified she saw Alberta Comstock’s red pick-up truck in Missouri on the night of Comstock’s killing. She said she only saw the driver had gray hair.
Finally, Stocker’s attorneys called Greene County Detective Kenny Weatherford to the stand. He testified Alberta Comstock and her sister are “not cooperating” with the ongoing homicide investigation.
On Tuesday, Faith Stocker's attorneys called her, Rolland Comstock's maid Glenda Joplin, Rolland Comstock's secretary Becky Frakes and former lead detective, Frank Duren, to the stand. They also played a recorded interview with a Greene County medical examiner.
Stocker’s attorneys say Alberta Comstock was angry Rolland Comstock did not sell their large home quickly following the former couple‘s divorce. They say Alberta Comstock was “furious” Rolland was possibly cheating with “young Latino men.” Stocker's attorneys say Alberta Comstock's motive was money and anger about Rolland Comstock's alleged infidelities. They say Alberta Comstock had the motivation and opportunity to kill Rolland Comstock.
Alberta Comstock's attorneys questioned Faith Stocker's motives for filing the wrongful death civil suit. They also questioned how investigators handled the homicide investigation nearly four years ago. Comstock's attorneys say officers did not properly investigate all potential suspects.
Faith Stockers attorneys are arguing there is no reason Alberta Comstock’s briefcase filled with documents involving the couple’s divorce agreement should have been found in Rolland Comstock’s home the night of the killing. They say Alberta Comstock admitted the briefcase was hers. Stocker says her parents fought often and did not visit one another. She also told jurors there is no reason her mother’s belongings should have been in her father’s home.
Alberta Comstock’s attorneys say detectives did not search the homes or belongings of all potential suspects. They alluded their initial investigation targeted one of Comstock’s sons and not Alberta Comstock his ex-wife.
Alberta Comstock cannot account for a gun she owned that is consistent with the weapon used to kill Rolland Comstock. Alberta Comstock’s attorneys say because lab analysts could not confirm an exact caliber, “millions of types of guns could have killed Rolland Comstock.”
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