Judge to restart DeMocker trial Wednesday
A judge presiding over the murder trial for Prescott stockbroker Steven DeMocker set Wednesday as the date the trial will resume.
Prosecutors charged DeMocker, 56, with first-degree murder in the July 2, 2008, beating death of his former wife, Carol Kennedy. An officer found Kennedy's body in her Williamson Valley home after her mother called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to check on her when a phone call between the two broke off abruptly and Kennedy, who exclaimed "Oh, no," could not be reached.
Although opening arguments began on June 3 after a lengthy jury selection, the trial has been delayed since June 17 when the previous trial judge became ill and collapsed in his chambers.
Friday lawyers argued over a defense request to lower DeMocker's bond and defense lawyers' assertions that the prosecution turned over a list of additional witnesses and evidence too late to include them in the trial. Superior Court Judge Warren R. Darrow postponed ruling on those issues.
Katie DeMocker, 22, DeMocker's older daughter, told the judge that she and her younger sister, Charlotte, 18, need their father's advice and companionship. Charlotte, who will soon be heading off to college, has no other parent to help her prepare, Katie DeMocker said.
"I have taken time away from career opportunities," said Katie DeMocker, who graduated this spring from Occidental College. "I'd like a little bit of time (with him) before I move away and start law school."
Other family members have come from around the country to attend the trial, including Steven DeMocker's mother, Janice DeMocker, who lives in Rochester, N.Y. His father, John DeMocker, 81, a physician, returned to practice full-time to earn money to help with his son's defense, she said.
Defense lawyer John Sears asked Darrow to reduce DeMocker's bond from $1 million to $250,000, saying the family could not afford to pay that amount. Active GPS monitoring could be used to track DeMocker's whereabouts, Sears said, adding that the defense needs DeMocker's help with the case. No one anticipated the delay that ensued after Judge Thomas B. Lindberg's illness, he said. The trial may now last through October.
Deputy County Attorney Joseph C. Butner III opposed any reduction in DeMocker's bond, telling Darrow that DeMocker took steps to plan an escape before his October 2008 arrest. These included buying books that offer information about how to live as a fugitive, secreting a getaway bag on the Hassayampa golf course near his Alpine Meadows condominium, and applying for a new passport after prosecutors seized his.
Butner also pointed to shoeprint tracks and bicycle tire tracks near Kennedy's Bridle Path house that he contends link DeMocker to the crime. The footprints began where the bicycle tire tracks ended and "went to the scene of the murder." DeMocker told detectives when questioned that night that he was riding his mountain bike on a Granite Mountain trail the evening his former spouse died.
"The presumption is now great that the defendant committed the murder of Carol Kennedy," Butner said.
Sears countered that no DNA ties his client to the crime scene and that scientists found DNA from other unknown men. Also, investigators located no blood on DeMocker's clothes, car or bicycle.
"That is powerful evidence," Sears said.
Anne Chapman, another lawyer for DeMocker, asked Darrow to exclude 13 "late-disclosed" witnesses who would testify concerning an anonymous e-mail that Sears received. The e-mail suggested that members of a prescription drug ring killed Kennedy while actually seeking her friend, James Knapp, who lived in her guesthouse. Knapp died of a gunshot wound in January 2009 and the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.
Some of the late-disclosed witnesses spent time with DeMocker at the Yavapai County jail in Camp Verde. Another owns an Internet café in Phoenix where detectives believe the e-mail originated.
Butner would like to introduce Knapp's will and some handwritten letters and journal entries that Knapp's brother recently sent to the County Attorney's Office to rebut the e-mail claim.