Wednesday was filled with about five hours of testimony at the Mullis murder trial in Dubuque County.
Todd Mullis is charged with First Degree Murder in the death of his wife, Amy. He is accused of fatally stabbing her in the back with a corn rake on their farm near Earlville on November 10, 2018. He has pleaded not guilty.
The State called seven witnesses on Wednesday – Terri Staner, Kelly Kruse, Debra Scherbring, Angie Burr, Jerry Frasher, Patricia Kristoffersen and Carrie Callan.
Terri Staner of Earlville, who was a friend of Amy’s, testified that Amy had confided in her details about her marital problems with Todd and the affair she began having with Jerry Frasher in the months before her death. Terri testified that she told Amy, “You are putting yourself in a really dangerous situation… he is going to kill you.” The State asked Terri why she said that, to which Terri replied, “Todd is just the person you don’t mess with”. Terri testified that at one time, Amy told her Todd had pushed her onto the bed and aggressively forced “rough sex” with her. Terri said Amy told her she was under financial restrictions placed by Todd and was under close eye from him as well, “timed when she left home until when she got back”. Terri also testified that Todd had contacted her with concerns about their marital problems and asking for advice, adding that he appreciated the advice. Copies of multiple text message conversations between Terri and Amy and also between Terri and Todd were shown and discussed in the courtroom.
Forensic pathologist Kelly Kruse testified next. She performed an autopsy on Amy, declaring homicide as the manner of death and sharp force injuries to the torso as the cause of death. Todd kept his eyes down while most of Amy’s autopsy photos were shown in the courtroom. Kruse said she observed six puncture wounds to Amy’s back, two upward and four downward, which indicates “she’d have to be impaled with the rake at least twice, possibly three times.” Kruse also noted abrasions and scrapes were found on Amy’s knuckles, possibly indicating defensive wounds from a struggle. Other blunt force injuries, including on her knees and hands, were also found, which Kruse said would have happened before Amy died or while she was dying. Kruse testified that Amy’s hands were bagged to preserve any DNA evidence under her fingernails in case a struggle was suspected. She said fingernail clippings were gathered from Amy, but she did not know if they were ever examined.
Local residents Debra Scherbring and her daughter, Angie Burr, each took turns taking the stand next. Both women said they had received a call from Amy, who was crying and “hysterical”, asking them that if they heard any rumors about an affair to stop them. Scherbring testified that Amy told her, “You don’t know what it’s like… to have Trysten say, ‘If Dad finds out about the affair, he’ll kill you.’” Burr testified that Amy told her one day Trysten didn’t want to get on the school bus because he was scared Amy wouldn’t be there when he got back.
Jerry Frasher of Anamosa took the stand to testify in the afternoon. He oversaw hog confinement barns for a living and had known Amy and Todd on a business level for about seven years. Frasher admitted to beginning a physical affair with Amy in late May/early June of 2018, meeting Amy for sexual relations at least once a week, sometimes more. Frasher testified Todd had confronted him about text messages from Amy, but Frasher denied anything was going on. Todd called Frasher back a few days later to apologize. Frasher said he and Amy continued to stay in contact via email, right up until her death. He testified that Amy told him she wasn’t happy in her marriage and “felt like a hostage”, at one time telling Frasher if Todd ever found out about the affair, “she’d disappear”. Frasher said he was in Anamosa on the day of Amy’s death – and that he did not see Amy that day nor did he go to the Mullis farm.
Patricia Kristoffersen, a friend of Amy’s, was the next one called to testify. Amy had also confided in her about her marital problems with Todd, her past affair a few years ago and her current affair with Frasher. Kristoffersen said she didn’t know Todd personally – she only knew that Amy was scared of him and he had a bad temper.
Carrie Callan of Central City, another friend of Amy’s who worked with her at Creative Memories Embroidery in Earlville, also testified. She had received a text message from Amy on the morning of her death that read, “Still very tense around here. Just not sure of anything anymore.” Callan sent Amy a text message three hours later at 11:01 am that went unanswered.
Amy had been found injured by her 14-year old son, Trysten, around noon that day and pronounced dead at Regional Medical Center in Manchester a short time later.
Judge Bitter called for recess around 3 pm Wednesday, with the trial running slightly ahead of schedule. He said the couple of witnesses the State has left were not scheduled until Thursday, so they will wait until then to hear more testimony.
Stay with Mix 94.7 KMCH for updates on the Mullis trial.
photos courtesy of Telegraph Herald