Motion Asks Set Aside Boatfield Murder Conviction

Thursday, May 11, 2000

Attorney Jerry Summers is asking that a murder conviction against John Boatfield be set aside - saying there was an earlier agreement for a settlement of the case.

He said prosecutor Dave Denny and Judge Rebecca Stern had agreed that Boatfield would plea guilty to a lesser charge and be allowed to go free on time served.

However, the plea was set aside when the family of the victim decided not to go along, he said. Attorney Summers said the plea should stand.

A Criminal Court jury Wednesday night found Boatfield guilty of the first-degree murder of his wife, Emily, as well as abuse of her corpse.

Boatfield was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Stern immediately after the 9:30 p.m. verdict. The jury deliberated almost five hours.

Boatfield’s two daughters and his sister, Brenda Boatfield, were so distraught at the jury ruling that they had to be escorted from the courtroom. The daughters, Sabrina and Candace, had testified they did not believe he was guilty.

Emily Denise Smith Boatfield was shot and stabbed, then her body was set afire in her bed at her Lookout Valley home on March 12, 1998.

Family members of Mrs. Boatfield said after the verdict that “there was no agreement.”

They praised detectives and the district attorney’s office.

The victim’s sister (Melody Jones), sister-in-law (Vicki Smith), brother (Ray Alan Smith) and step-brother (Terry Smith) said they had “no doubt from the start that he (Boatfield) did it.”

Ms. Jones said, "It has been a long two years. There are really no winners with this verdict. Nothing can ever bring her back."

She said the victim was "the life of our family."

Boatfield, 40, did not take the witness stand, and the defense put on limited proof after the state had brought forward 49 witnesses and over 200 exhibits in the lengthy trial.

Prosecutor Dave Denny told the jury in a final argument that all the circumstantial evidence pointed to the husband as the killer of his 34-year-old wife.

He said Boatfield stated he left the residence about 9:15 a.m. that day, and he said that left only seven minutes before a smoke alarm went off at 9:22 a.m.

Attorney Summers hammered away at the possibility it could have been two burglars who carried out the grisly slaying. Some jewelry was missing and a door was damaged, but the state contended it was the work of Boatfield to try to cover up the crime.

The state closed its proof Tuesday afternoon - finishing with a tape in which Boatfield talked of "hugging" a female the state says he had a relationship with.

The tape was made June 19, 1998, several months after the death of Mrs. Boatfield.

Boatfield and Brenda Tripp have amorous conversation on the tape that was played to the jury.

The state tried to show that Boatfield was involved with Ms. Tripp prior to the slaying and that he also was having financial problems.

Police wiretapped several phones used by Boatfield. Det. Mike Mathis said he and Ms. Tripp had "numerous intimate conversations, including sleeping arrangements in hotels."

On a tape played to the jury Monday, Boatfield said he and his wife had been getting along well in the months prior to her murder and said he "never put a finger on her."

Boatfield, who has been held in jail since his arrest, on the tape also denied that he had any other love interest.

A witness testified Friday that Mrs. Boatfield had over $15,000 in a tax-sheltered annuity and $72,000 in life insurance coverage - with her husband as the beneficiary.

It was also testified that when the Boatfields bought a new Toyota truck that Mrs. Boatfield did not want credit life insurance, but she agreed to it at a cost of some $2,000 on the urging of Mr. Boatfield.

On Thursday, the couple's 16-year-old daughter testified she does not believe her father is a murderer.

Candace Boatfield, the youngest daughter of John and Emily Boatfield, told the jury, "If I had any idea he did it, I wouldn't lie."

Candace Boatfield said her father drove her from their home on Kelly's Ferry Road to Grace Academy on the morning her mother was killed.

Melody Jones said Emily had told her in August or September of 1997 she suspected her husband was having an affair. She said Emily also said she was afraid of her husband.

Ms. Jones said when she first heard her sister had been killed "My immediate reaction was John killed her."

She said Boatfield told a number of accounts about what happened.

Martha McNabb, mother of the victim, said Emily told her someone was trying to kill her.

Eddie Boatfield, the defendant's brother, said John Boatfield was extremely upset and crying the morning of the slaying.

Medical Examiner Dr. Frank King testified Wednesday that Mrs. Boatfield was shot with a rifle at very close range, then stabbed twice.

The body of Mrs. Boatfield was found in the bed of the couple's Lookout Valley home. The couple had been married 15 years.

Prosecutor Denny said Mrs. Boatfield was on a day off from a dialysis clinic when her husband took a .22-caliber rifle and shot her once behind her right ear. He said he then probed the victim's abdomen with a knife and poured a liquid like paint thinner on the bed.

Mr. Denny said the defendant was facing financial problems and his wife "was worth more to him dead than alive."

Attorney Summers said the victim was bringing in $30,000 a year. He said the defendant volunteered for DNA tests and the results did not match scrapings from under the wife's fingernails.

He also said the couple's two daughters do not believe their father committed the crime, and he cited a number of burglaries in that vicinity.

Mr. Denny told the jury that it was not possible the murder was done by burglars.

Dr. King, who was on the stand for three hours, said it was possible that Mrs. Boatfield could have been struggling with one person and then shot by another.

He said she was burned when the bed was set on fire.

Firemen called to the scene doused water on the bed - not knowing at first the victim was there.

Dr. King said the death occurred between 9 to 10 a.m.

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